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Talking therapies

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 3 minutes read

Talking therapies can also be known as counselling and are used to help treat a range of mental health conditions and also people struggling with a variety of difficulties in their life including emotional difficulties or life events. Talking therapies are when you work with a qualified healthcare professional to talk or think through what is happening and help to understand your thoughts, feelings, behaviour patterns and to work through coping strategies and small positive changes to the way you think which can have a big impact on your daily life.

There are many different types of talking therapy that can be matched to the best one to help you with the challenges you are facing, and an example of a talking therapy is cognitive behavioural therapy which can help people suffering from depression, anxiety, sleep problems, anger and sexual dysfunction among others. There are also different ways of doing talking therapies from one to one, with your spouse or family member, group sessions, online or over the phone sessions.

Talking therapies are usually done in regular sessions such as weekly or fortnightly for a set number of sessions which tend to be between 30-60 minutes.

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To access free talking therapies through the NHS you can either go through your doctor who can refer you or in many parts of the UK you can self refer to a local NHS talking therapy service by going to - Find an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT).

When should I see my doctor?

You can speak to your doctor if you feel a talking therapy could help you as they can help inform you about talking therapies, the different ones available and refer you to NHS talking therapies. There may be a wait for this and if you want to go privately it is still good to speak with your doctor and keep them in the loop so they can oversee your support.

It can be difficult to work out if you are getting better as you're going through talking therapy treatment. Your doctor is a good person to be able to help give you some feedback, and sometimes use objective scoring systems or benchmarks to assess your progress. Some simple things to look for may be improvements to symptoms, day to day tasks may be easier, or easier more often than they were.

What will the doctor do

Your doctor will discuss with you your current symptoms, past medical and mental health history and talk you through what talking therapy may be best suited to you. The doctor will keep an eye on how you are doing and whether the talking therapy is helping, this may be via set questions that can be used to monitor your progress over time.


The majority of people are fit for work whilst you are going through talking therapy however this may depend on the severity of the mental illness and how it is affecting your day to day functioning. Your doctor can help decide this.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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