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Patients and carers

Talking therapy

Patients and carers

Talking therapy

Patients and carers

Talking therapy

Patients and carers

Talking therapy


This is a general term for treatments that involve talking in individual or group sessions with a trained mental health professional.
A good first step is to talk to a doctor or nurse at your GP surgery as they may offer counselling services.  If they do not offer counselling at the surgery, they will be able to refer you to a facility that does.

If you are under the care of a psychiatrist, community psychiatric nurse or social worker you can speak to them about getting therapy.

It is possible to refer yourself for therapy at any of the Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services below. After a referral is made, you will usually be offered an assessment so that you can discuss what is on your mind and what might help you.

  • Croydon IAPT service: 07808 844 488
  • Lambeth IAPT service: 020 3228 6747
  • Lewisham IAPT service: 020 3228 9030
  • Southwark IAPT service: 020 3228 2194

Alternatively, you can visit our IAPT website for more information.
This depends on the type of therapy, but most therapy services have waiting lists. You will be contacted to soon as possible to confirm your referral and to arrange an initial appointment for an assessment. The length of time you will wait to start psychotherapy will be discussed with you at your initial assessment.
Different types of therapy work for different problems. Your assessor will advise you on the type of psychotherapy that would suit you best and will keep your preferences in mind when drawing up your 'care plan'.
In general, therapy helps by giving you the opportunity to explore your emotional difficulties so you can better understand them. In turn, this can help you discover ways of changing things for the better. Changes could be anything from learning new coping skills to deepening your understanding of yourself.

Some therapies focus on specific problems, others look at how personal difficulties relate to your life and experiences. All therapies involve a trained therapist. Most sessions are conducted on a one to one basis, but some therapies will take place in a group, as a couple or a family.

There are many different therapies. Here are a few of them:

Individual psychodynamic psychotherapy
This is also referred to as psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Some people have difficulties relating to other people and sometimes these difficulties have developed from early in their life.

With individual psychodynamic psychotherapy, you and your therapist talk about your life and your relationships and try to understand how they have affected each other. This kind of therapy may be helpful for a range of difficulties, including anxiety, depression, personality disorders, sexual difficulties, eating disorders, self harm and difficulties in managing relationships with others.

Group psychotherapy
This is also known as group psychodynamic or psychoanalytic therapy. It is a way of thinking about yourself and your relationships by exploring both with other similar people. You get the chance to see how others see you, to see yourself in other people's eyes and to tell others what you think about them. Group psychotherapy is offered to people with anxiety, depression, problems in relationship and social functioning.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
This uses educational tools, manuals and self-help materials to understand patterns of thinking and behaviour that that are unhelpful and can lead to emotional problems. It can help you learn practical skills for dealing with these problems and so relieve distress. Sometimes CBT is available as a group therapy. It can be useful for anxiety disorders, depression, psychosomatic disorders and some psychotic symptoms.

Family and couples therapy
This is also referred to as systemic therapy. Sometimes emotional problems can affect family relationships. This therapy helps families, couples and those who are close to the family to think about the strengths and limitations of family relationships and help the relationships develop so that the problems can be dealt with.
This depends on what the problems are and how you want to deal with them. Some people like to be able to talk about anything that is on their mind, in which case psychodynamic psychotherapies might be more suitable. Other people may want help with very specific problems and so a cognitive behavioural approach may be more suitable.

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has produced guidelines about recommended treatments for different disorders. These may be useful to read and discuss at your assessment.
This depends on the service that you have been referred to. Most services will have consulting rooms on or near to their premises.
This depends on the type of therapy. This will be discussed with you at your assessment.

For more information visit the NHS website