Talking therapies is a term interchangeable with counselling and psychotherapy – they may also be referred to as psychological therapies. The NHS describes talking therapies as:
“Talking therapies, or psychological therapies, are effective and confidential treatments delivered by fully trained and accredited NHS practitioners. They can help with common mental health problems like stress, anxiety and depression.”
NHS talking therapies services are also known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. You can access talking therapies for free on the NHS. You can refer yourself directly to an NHS talking therapies service without a referral from a GP, or a GP can refer you.
Whereas counselling and psychotherapy typically take place face to face, there is also a talking therapy which you can do online known as ‘guided self-help’. This involves a therapist coaching you through a self-help course in your time, often with the use of an online course, videos or a workbook.
Talking therapies can also take place in a group. Some people like to attend group sessions as they can help you feel less along knowing others are going through the same thing. For others, group sessions may be too daunting or distressing at first, but maybe an option further along in their treatment.
You don’t need to be diagnosed with anything to use talking therapy services, and within the NHS you can self-refer without needing to see your GP. These therapies may help if:
- you are feeling low, depressed, sad or hopeless
- you have social anxiety
- you are having panic attacks or feeling anxious
- you have obsessive thoughts or behaviours
- you are having nightmares or finding it difficult to sleep
- you have flashbacks
- you are feeling stressed and it is impacting your life
- you find yourself worrying a lot
- you are finding it hard to cope day-to-day