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What are talking therapies
How to access talking therapies

Talking Therapies are treatments that involve talking to a trained professional about your feelings, thoughts, body sensations and behaviours. This may be one-to-one, in a group, online, over the phone, with your partner or family and there are a lot of different types of talking therapy; it’s really important that wherever you go for therapy, this with someone who is properly trained (see finding a therapist)


Sometimes a question that comes up is the difference between the terms ‘therapy’ and ‘counselling’; generally these terms are used for the same thing, referring to talking therapies. Sometimes they may however refer to differences in who your therapist is or types of therapy so it’s always worth asking to make sure.

So why do people go to therapy?


There are all sorts of reasons;

To have a safe place where they can talk to someone who doesn’t have any other involvement in their life and won’t judge them. To help make sense of things that may be going on for them and develop better awareness and understanding of why they may be doing the things they are doing – maybe patterns that have become unhelpful for them – and to find ways to change if this is something they want to do.

To explore and resolve difficult feelings, finding ways to live with them or manage them along with many others.


Therapy isn’t there to ‘fix’ someone because it starts at the basis that people aren’t broken; this is where therapy and medical treatment can differ – with medical treatment the best outcome is getting rid of an illness and doing whatever possible to stop it returning. In therapy, this isn’t possible as mental illness and unhelpful behaviours are not a disease; the hoped for outcome is someone being aware of their strengths and learning new skills they can use to manage any challenges that may come up for them in life.


Talking therapies are very much not ‘one-size-fits-all’, different therapies and therapists will suit different people and it may be that therapy alongside something else (for ex. medication, exercise, etc.) is more helpful. Therapies will differ in their focus, some are more based on the here and now whereas others looking back into your past; the theory behind them and the techniques used by a therapist in sessions.


How can talking therapies be accessed?


There are a number of options;


NHS Talking Therapies

This is a free of charge talking service often known as ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) and you can be referred into them by going to your GP who contacts them and the service will then get in touch with you or you can self-refer by going to the following link to find details on your local IAPT service


Charity and Third Sector Organisations

A number of various organisations may offer free or low cost talking therapies. Some examples of these are your local Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Turning Point, Mental Health Matters (MHM), Anxiety UK, Cruse Bereavement Care and others. You can find these by searching on the internet and a good place to start is the Hub of Hope as well as a local library or community centre or your GP. 


Through Work or Education

A number of employers sign up to Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) services that may allow you access to a limited number of free sessions, it’s worth talking to your manager or HR department if this is available. If you are a student, a lot of places of education will have a free counselling service so it’s worth talking to student services and finding out about yours.


Private Therapy

There are many therapists who offer sessions on a private basis and this does have a cost, it is however worth talking to therapists about their pricing and if they offer a sliding scale of reduced rates as some therapists will offer lower cost sessions on a circumstance basis. When looking for a private therapist, it is very important to find one who is properly trained and a good way to do this is to find someone who is registered with a professional body. See finding a therapist 

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