There has been significant investment provided by the Government to improve access to Primary Care Psychological Therapies, a stepped care approach has been adopted within the provision of NHS Psychological Therapy. What this means is you will wait approximately 12-18 weeks to be accepted for a Psychological Therapy which will be provided by a qualified therapist that has undergone a Psychological Therapy training programme. The NHS Primary Care Psychological Therapy services offer various forms of Psychological Therapy such as Counselling, Interpersonal Therapy, Couples Therapy and EMDR therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). For further information about NHS Primary Care psychological therapy please contact your GP and request a referral to your local service. If the Primary Care Psychological Therapy is not effective then your GP can consider referring you to the NHS Secondary Care Specialist Psychotherapy / Psychology Service, where generally you will work with a Highly Specialist Psychotherapists / Psychologists / Psychiatrists providing various forms of Highly Specialist evidenced based Psychological Therapy.
An example of how this may typically work in your locality: the initial step 1 called “watchful waiting” is conducted by your GP while individuals are waiting to be assessed by their psychological therapy service. Then once accepted for an assessment and deemed suitable for psychological therapy they will move onto step 2, and receive approximately 1-2 courses of guided self help provided by a graduate mental health worker (non-mental health professional). Each course consisting of 3-6 sessions to help clients utilise self help material independently. Once it is deemed that the client requires additional support the client moves onto step 3. This is where Counselling, Interpersonal Therapy, EMDR, or CBT is provided by a therapist utilising specific / standardised treatment approaches to help clients cope with their current difficulties. Therapy may consist of up to 2 courses therapy of between 10-20 sessions. Research data from the National CBT Trials indicates approximately 50% of patients’ still experience significant difficulty after finishing at step 3 therapy. Consequently if a client is still experiencing difficulty they may be referred onto step 4 Psychological Therapy Services which is provided by Highly Specialist and Experienced Psychotherapist / Psychologists (including Psychiatrists, Psychologist, and Mental Health Professionals with a minimum of 5 yrs Psychotherapy training / experience). This provision of Psychotherapy is individually tailored to the client’s needs.
However, what this does not mean is that therapy provided at a lower levels is not effective as it offers an opportunity to start to understand problems and develop basic skills to help people cope with their difficulties.
If you are interested in obtaining NHS Psychological Therapy please speak to you GP and discuss the various options within the NHS services.