Talking Therapy is one of the main treatments for mental health conditions. Therapy gives a person a chance to discuss their problems, analyse their thoughts and see how their behaviour is impacted by their issues.

Therapy is usually the first-line treatment for mental health conditions. This is because they are usually effective, low cost, and it also does not have the potential side effects associated with medication.

Therapy can also be used by those who are not struggling with their mental health. Some people find that therapy gives them an improvement in their overall wellbeing.

Regardless of the reason behind getting it, talking therapy can be very effective. In this article, we provide a broad overview of therapy, and look at the various elements of it.

Talking therapy can be a very useful treatment

What are the different types of talking therapy?

There are a vast array of different types of talking therapy. There are many similarities between them all, though there are intricacies that make each particular type of therapy different.

In total, there are around 30 different types of talking therapy. We have an article that takes a look at all 30. Some of the best-known therapies include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy and Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy among others.

The goal of all therapies is total remission of symptoms. This isn’t always possible, but at the very least, the aim is to lessen the symptoms of a condition, therefore aiding the overall welfare of a person.

What happens in therapy?

Therapy involves talking to a trained professional. What a patient will discuss is dependent on the type of therapy involved. In general, a patient will discuss how their symptoms are having an impact on their life, any contributing factors and other general feelings.

Over time, a therapist will use a range of techniques to try and facilitate change. This hopefully results in the person feeling better. Therapy takes time to work, and requires commitment from the patient.

The type of condition that is being treated and the exact form of therapy will dictate how the sessions work. Some therapies are designed for the short-term, whilst others require a long-term approach for a patient to derive benefit.

Which therapy is right for a patient?

With so many different types of therapy, it can be difficult to determine which type of therapy will be effective. In truth, there is usually a limited choice. If a person uses the NHS, there will normally only be a few options.

The NHS typically offers treatments like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy and sometimes Arts Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR).

It will often be a case of a Doctor or mental health professional matching a type of therapy with the condition that a person is suffering from. This is usually how a type of therapy is assigned to a person.

Meanwhile, if a person opts for private therapy, then they will be able to have a vast choice of therapies. They will be able to choose the type of therapy that suits them, and their therapist. This sadly comes at a premium in terms of cost.

NHS or Private?

One of the most common debates in therapy is whether or not it is best for a person to use the public (i.e. NHS) sector or the private sector. We have an article that looks in detail at the difference between them.

The main benefit of the NHS is that it is free. Private therapy is not free, and is often quite expensive. This does tend to be the main issue that determines whether or not a person uses the private or public sector.

Private therapy involves no waiting lists, unlike the NHS. Then there is also a limited choice of therapy types with the NHS – an issue that isn’t the case with private therapy. A person using the private sector also has the choice of a therapist, whereas those with the NHS don’t get the choice.

What happens if therapy doesn’t work?

There are other options available if therapy doesn’t work for a patient. There are normally other types of therapies that can be tried. It sometimes takes time to find a type of therapy that works for a person.

If not though, then medication may be considered. Medicines like antidepressants are commonly used to treat mental health conditions like Depression or Anxiety. Medication can also be used in conjunction with therapy.

How good is therapy?

Therapy is usually a very effective intervention. We have an article that looks at the potential benefits of therapy. These benefits include having a chance to discuss problems, examine thoughts and feelings, and see how they impact behaviour.

Many people see a strong improvement in their mental health as a result of therapy. While not everyone will succeed with it, most people find therapy to be effective.

How to access talking therapy

Accessing talking therapy in the United Kingdom is relatively straightforward. The NHS incredibly offers free therapy for anyone that requires it. Patients are normally referred by their GP.

For those aged 18 and over, the NHS will refer them to their local mental health service. Depending on the severity of symptoms, this will either be a low or high intensity service. Those aged 17 and under will be referred to their local Community and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

For those who intend on getting private therapy, they can arrange their own appointments. It is important to find a reputable therapist however. We have an article with more information on this.


Overall, talking therapy is an important part in the treatment of mental health conditions. The vast majority of people will enjoy some form of benefit from therapy, and it is enough for some to achieve full remission from symptoms.

A good starting point is our list of the different types of therapy that are available. Profiles are available on these, with plenty of information available throughout our site.

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