We're with Steve Pilling

We're with Steve Pilling
to discuss talking therapies.

So tell me a bit,
what is a talking therapy?

Well, a talking therapy
is a psychological treatment

which helps people overcome
a range of problems:

depression, anxiety and stress.

And over the last 30 or 40 years
we've built up some very good evidence

that shows that these are
effective treatments

that work for a range of problems,
and they work pretty quickly.

We'd expect people to get better
after two, three, four months.

Why does a talking therapy seem to help
people with, say, depression?

What is it about discussing the problem
that makes it easier or better?

Well, there are a number of ideas
about why that might work.

If you help people change the way
they think about things,

and by focussing on the negative
thoughts associated with depression,

by looking at the way
in which people withdraw,

and sitting down with an individual
and working out a careful plan

to challenge those thoughts, to think
of ways of behaving differently,

we've been able to show that these
treatments work effectively.

What are the range of therapies
someone could use?

Probably the most widely available
one now

is called cognitive behavioural therapy,

which looks at the way people think
about things and actually what they do.

With something called
interpersonal therapy,

the focus is not so much
on thoughts and behaviour

but on the various social relationships

that individuals have.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a therapy
which pays quite a lot of attention

to the origins of the difficulties
in people's early experience.

In addition, and quite a widely
available treatment, is counselling,

and also couples therapy,

where you work not just with
the individual who has depression,

but with their partner.

Some people might think, "If I can take
a course of antidepressants,

that seems a lot easier than having to
discuss why I'm feeling so terrible

or why I'm feeling depressed."

Some people do prefer antidepressants
for exactly the reasons you set out.

But when people have
a psychological problem,

be it depression or anxiety disorder,

because it has such an effect
on the individual,

there's a wish to try and understand a
bit about why the problem came about.

And, importantly also, if you understand
something of why the problem developed,

then it allows you in the future to
develop strategies, ways of coping,

that will prevent reoccurrence.

What other things
would someone see a therapist about?

Perhaps about 50% of people who see
their GP with a psychological problem

have depression,

but there are a number
of anxiety problems,

for example, panic disorder,
where people will feel very anxious,

obsessive-compulsive disorder,
post traumatic stress disorder,

and a variety of phobias, where people
avoid social situations, for example,

potentially quite a crippling disorder.

How could I get referred
to have a talking therapy?

The main route,
in psychological therapies,

would be to go and discuss the matter
with your GP.

Some people may not feel comfortable
doing that.

They may feel embarrassed or ashamed.

Some may feel they don't have a good
enough relationship with their doctor.

And in that case, people can refer
themselves directly.

What would you say to someone who's
a bit unsure about a talking therapy?

The first thing to say to people is,
they're not alone.

Psychological problems are very common.

They might affect about one in six
of the population.

And GPs are very familiar, very used
to dealing with these problems.

And the treatments that people can get
are going to work

and the psychological therapists
they will see

are very well aware of the anxieties
and difficulties that people have.

So they can go knowing they're
very likely to get a real benefit

from having done so.