Talking treatments

Explains what talking treatments are used for, what happens during therapy and how to find a therapist.

Your stories

Discovering depression

Posted on 27/09/2013

Life in limbo – waiting for talking therapy

Francesca blogs about the impact of waiting for talking therapy, as part of our We Need to Talk campaign.

Posted on 28/11/2013

The importance of choice – access to talking therapies

Al blogs for us about the importance of choice and having access to the right talking therapy to suit you.

Posted on 02/12/2013

About talking treatments

Note: This information only covers treatments for individuals; it does not cover talking treatments for groups, couples or families. It covers both face-to-face and telephone options, but not treatments available via internet or computer programmes.

What are talking treatments?

Talking treatments provide a regular time and space for you to talk about your troubles and explore difficult feelings with a trained professional. This can help you to deal with specific problems, cope with a crisis, improve your relationships, or develop better ways of living.

The purpose of talking treatments is not, usually, to give advice, but to help you understand your feelings and behaviour better and, if you want to, to change your behaviour or the way you think about things.

You should expect your therapist to be respectful, dependable, and to provide an environment that is confidential and free from intrusion.

Sessions usually take place once a week, and making this regular commitment gives you a better chance of finding out why you are having difficulties.

There is a vast range of treatments available and sometimes a lot of confusing terms are used.

How do we talk about talking treatments?

You may hear the terms ‘talking treatment’ or ‘talking therapy’ or ‘psychological therapy’. These terms have the same meaning and all cover treatments that you may know as:

• psychotherapy
• counselling
• therapy.

Some people may choose one of the terms – psychotherapy, counselling or therapy – to describe a particular talking treatment. This can be confusing, as others may use another one of these terms to describe the same talking treatment.

We use the terms ‘talking treatment’ and ‘therapy’ in this booklet, and not ‘counselling’ or ‘psychotherapy’ – although this is, essentially, what we are describing.

Therapy can be practised by different types of specially trained mental health professional. In this booklet, we use the words ‘therapist’ and ‘practitioner’ to describe the mental health professionals who provide each therapy. A therapist may be a:

• counsellor
• psychotherapist
• psychologist
• psychiatrist.

What can talking treatments help with?

Sometimes, when trying to explain what I’ve been thinking or feeling... a mishmash of words... falls out of my mouth. But my therapist always seems to make sense of it, and he can even translate it back to me to, so I can understand myself better.

Talking treatments can help with difficult experiences or feelings you’ve been going through such as:

  • the breakdown of a relationship
  • a bereavement
  • redundancy
  • low self-esteem
  • anger
  • fear
  • sadness
  • guilt.

They can also help with common mental disorders such as:

  • depression
  • anxiety.

Some disorders may require more specialist treatment, for example:

  • phobias
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • eating disorders
  • psychotic disorders e.g. schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
  • personality disorders.

Talking treatments can also help you cope or come to terms with the symptoms and mental distress of an ongoing physical problem, illness or disability.

Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z


Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems

> View courses

Special offers

Check out our promotional offers on print and digital booklets, for a limited time only

> Visit our shop today