Therapy is a key treatment in mental health – and helps a lot of people process their symptoms or problems in a healthy way. The aim is for the patient to have improved overall wellbeing.

But before therapy is able to take place, a person needs to go through the process of accessing therapy. This article outlines how this can happen.

Therapy can be done either through the NHS, or privately. There are both advantages and disadvantages to these. This article mainly deals with the NHS.

For those accessing therapy privately, we recommend visiting an online directory and finding a therapist that suits you. Having an idea of which type of talking therapy you want is also helpful.

Accessing therapy is usually a very simple process

Who can have therapy?

In a word – anyone. A person doesn’t need to have been diagnosed with a mental health condition in order to access therapy on the NHS. They may be having stress or anger issues, for instance.

Typically though, a person would be struggling with symptoms associated with psychological distress, including low mood, anxiety, flashbacks, panic attacks, obsessive behaviours, substance abuse or phobias among other things.

The typical conditions that are known to benefit from talking therapy include – but are not limited to – Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour and Substance Use Disorders among other areas.

Those who are aged below 18 will normally need to access therapy through their local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. This is also known as CAMHS. For adults, continue below.

All therapy on the NHS is free. It is funded by British taxpayers. Those who opt for private therapy will have fees to pay. The amount paid will be dependent on the price charged by the therapist.

How can therapy help?

There are multiple ways that talking therapy can help a person. Most people will find that many of the following are highly helpful to them, and aids their recovery:

  • Therapy can treat any mental health condition
  • Therapy offers a patient a non-judgemental and safe environment where they are able to talk freely
  • Coping skills can be taught to help battle against future relapse
  • Therapy will provide a patient with time to reflect on problems and find practical solutions
  • A patient will also see how their thoughts, feelings, behaviours and past events affect them to this day

Accessing therapy through the NHS

The easiest way to access therapy is by attending a GP appointment. A GP will be able to make a referral for the patient, dependent on the symptoms present. For example, those suffering with severe conditions may be referred to the Community Mental Health Team.

Waiting lists are common, but the service would eventually contact the patient. Once contact is made, an initial appointment can be set. This is often through a phone call. From there, therapy can commence.

Alternatively, if you do not wish to access services via your GP, you can also self-refer to therapy. You can do so on the NHS’s website, where they have a page called “Find an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT)”. You can access it by clicking here.

The NHS offers a small choice of potential therapies. These include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy and Eye Movement Desensitiation and Reprocessing (EMDR). The exact type of therapy will be tailored to each individual case.

Accessing therapy privately

It is recommended that in the first instance, a patient should still go to their GP and explain their problems. It is good for a patient to be on the books of the NHS, and for a Doctor to be aware of them. Sometimes, a GP will be able to recommend a good therapist.

When accessing private therapy, the patient should always check the qualifications of any potential therapists. It is important to find a therapist that a patient can bond with.

Using a register like the BACP’s therapist directory ensures that a legitimate and well-qualified therapist is found. It is then a case of contacting the therapist using their contact details, and hopefully from there therapy can be arranged.

Private therapy features no waiting times, and there are also a huge range of types of talking therapy to choose from. If a patient can handle the cost, then private therapy can be very beneficial.


Accessing therapy is rather simple – with multiple ways of doing so. While it may seem a rather daunting process at the start, it is ultimately for the best, as it can be the start of a journey to recovery.

The ultimate aim is for mental health treatment to help a patient overcome their problems. Therapy is usually a major part of this, therefore making the process of getting therapy important.



This website should be used purely for informational purposes, and does not intend to, nor should it ever, be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.

We strive to keep all of our pages updated, and ensure that our website is full of factual and in-depth information. However, we encourage you to browse this website with care.

As a reminder, this website and all content within it cannot and should not replace the advice of a trained medical professional. You can read our full disclaimer at this link.


If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. With the right support and treatment, you can make a recovery. For information on helplines, or if you are in a state of crisis, please visit our crisis page by clicking on the relevant link for your geographical location (United Kingdom), (United States), (International). You can also see how to get mental health treatment and the process involved by clicking this link.