Psychological Therapies

Dr Elaine Ryan

Psychological therapies are talking therapies. The word therapy means a treatment to help you get better. Talking therapies is therefore using ‘talk’ to feel better, as opposed to taking a pill; medicalised treatment.

When you talk with a mental health professional, they will use what we call a model of therapy to help you recover. How you talk, and the style of conversation will depend on the model of therapy used by your therapist.

I think it can confuse you when you are not feeling well and don’t know where to start, so I shall try to provide answers to your questions here.

Self referrals or GP referrals.

If you have been to your GP, it should be straightforward enough, in that they could say, you have anxiety, and they contact a therapist on your behalf for CBT, but why do you need CBT when it is anxiety, who do I go to see, what will happen when I get there?

This page is to help you navigate what you need to do, based on how you are feeling.

If your GP has said you need CBT, or need counselling, I am going to explain why I choose a specific psychological therapy and not another, but first I shall outline psychological treatment, the primary models of therapy and what they can you help with.

Psychological treatment

Psychological treatment, also known as ‘talking therapy’ or sometimes called ‘psychotherapy’, is what happens when you talk to a mental health professional to understand what is happening to you, why it happened, in order to help you feel better.

Types of psychological treatment

I’ve detailed the most common models of therapy below.


Who can provide psychological treatments?

Mental health professionals such as psychologists, like myself, can provide psychological therapy.

What mental health conditions does talking therapy help with?

Psychological therapies can help with a range of mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, panic disorder and OCD.

What works for whom?

When you work with me I don’t just pluck a random model of therapy out of the air; phew!

In most countries there are organisations staffed with clinicians and researchers to make recommendations of what therapies to use, based on various trials and reviews of evidence.

I did my professional training in the UK, and I refer to a UK body called NICE to address what model of therapy to pick. NICE stands for National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. For generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder and OCD, the NICE guidance suggests CBT.

What is talking therapy like?

I mentioned at the start of this article, that the style of conversation you will have with your therapist depends on the model of therapy being used. I shall give a couple of examples to show how the model of therapy affects the conversational feel of sessions.

What does psychoanalytic therapy feel like?

If you are in psychoanalysis, the therapist will not speak until you speak. They shall not fill in any silences. You are free to talk as you please during each session. Not all psychoanalysts use couches, but some still do.

What does CBT feel like?

A CBT session will feel more like a conversation. Your therapist will start by reviewing last session and shall go over any homework that you completed. Your therapist will explain new concepts and what they require for the next session. You shall understand the format of sessions, as we should explain everything at the beginning.

Further Reading


Retrain Your Brain®

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