Talking therapies

What are talking therapies?

Talking therapies can help many people, including those who have anxiety or depression. They involve talking to a therapist about your thoughts and feelings. It is a safe space to explore your feelings and worries, and to find ways of coping.

There are many different types available. We have listed a few specific types of talking therapy here, but there are others to choose from.


Many people get support by talking to close family members or friends. However you might find it difficult to talk about your concerns with people close to you. It can help to talk to someone outside your family and circle of friends, who has been trained to listen and can help you explore your feelings. Having the time to talk things through often helps you see a way forward.

Talking one-to-one with a trained counsellor can help you sort out your feelings and find ways of coping with them. Some GPs have counsellors in their practice, or they can refer you to one. If you are employed, counselling may be available through self-referral or an occupational health scheme. You may need to pay for counselling, particularly if you would like to see a counsellor long-term.

Talking to a counsellor every week helped me put into words all the emotions I was going through. It helped me deal with my fears and frustrations, and empowered me.


Group therapy

In group therapy, a trained therapist (counsellor or other professional) encourages a group of individuals to share their feelings and experiences with each other.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

The way we think can have a powerful effect on how we feel. People who are anxious or depressed often have negative patterns of thinking and behaviour, which keep them feeling low. CBT is designed to break this cycle.

The therapist will help you recognise the negative thoughts that are making you feel low and help you find effective ways to challenge them. They will also help you find out which things give you a sense of satisfaction and pleasure.

You can ask your doctor or nurse to tell you about any local counselling and support services that are available to you. The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has details of counsellors – you can search for one on its website. Other organisations also provide counselling and emotional support.

Access on the NHS

Talking therapies are available for free through the NHS, but it often depends on what is available in your area. Your GP may refer you to a specialist, tell you about a self-referral service, or direct you to online services. We have more information about these ways of accessing support.

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