Psychological therapies are talking therapies. The word therapy means a treatment to help you get better. Talking therapies, therefore, use ‘talk’ to feel better, as opposed to taking a pill, or 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 answer 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, and what will happen when I get there?
This page is to help you navigate what you need to do, based on how you feel.
If your GP has said you need CBT or counselling, I will explain why I choose a specific psychological therapy and not another. Still, first, I shall outline psychological treatment, the primary models of therapy and what they can help with.
Psychological treatment, also known as ‘talking therapy’ or sometimes called ‘psychotherapy’, happens when you talk to a mental health professional to understand what is happening to you and why it happened to help you feel better.
Types of psychological treatment
I’ve detailed the most common models of therapy below.
- Cognitive behaviour therapy
- Acceptance and commitment therapy
- Cognitive analytic therapy
- Group therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy
Who can provide psychological treatments?
Mental health professionals such as psychologists, like myself, can provide psychological therapy.
What mental health conditions do talking therapy help with?
Psychological therapies can help with various 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, organisations are staffed with clinicians and researchers to make recommendations on 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 therapy model 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 the 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 the sessions, as we should explain everything at the beginning.