Mental and emotional health: talking therapies 

Learn about different talking therapies that can help people overcome a range of problems, from depression to stress. Tip: check with your GP whether there are any Improving Access to Psychological Treatment (IAPT) services in your area.

Learn about the benefits of talking therapy

Transcript of Mental and emotional health: talking therapies

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.


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