In the United Kingdom, the NHS (National Health Service) offers free therapy for anyone struggling with their mental health. It is an incredible offer, and badly-needed by so many people.

There is a huge demand however for therapy. Due to budget constraints, the NHS can only offer a few different therapies. There are around 30 types of therapy, though the NHS offers a much smaller selection.

The symptoms of a person and the condition they are suffering from will normally dictate which type of therapy the patient receives. Currently, the NHS primarily offers six types of therapy, each of which have an overview attached below.

It is important to note that not all areas of the United Kingdom provide each therapy. Each area is different. Some forms of therapy listed below will probably only be used when a patient has been referred to a Community Mental Health Team.

The NHS offer a strong selection of therapies

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is by far the most used therapy type. CBT is used for various conditions, including Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders and trauma-based conditions like Post traumatic stress disorder among others. CBT is defined as:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that is used to treat a range of mental health conditions. CBT involves an individual talking face-to-face with a therapist, although sometimes CBT can be conducted in a group setting. CBT attempts to improve an individual’s wellbeing and mood. The therapy focuses on the link between thoughts, feelings and actions. This can be useful for those with low self-esteem, anxiety, unhelpful personality traits or intrusive thoughts. CBT can help an individual understand their feelings more, and in the long run should lead to an improvement in quality of life.

Arts Therapy

Arts therapy is often used for conditions where patients are struggling to express their thoughts through words. It may be used for conditions like Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder. Arts therapy is defined as:

Arts Therapy: Arts and creative therapy (also known as expressive arts therapy, creative arts therapy, expressive therapies etc) can help people find a way to express their thoughts and feelings in an easier way. This type of therapy involves an individual creating art, an object or piece of music, which can normally be used by a therapist to link to certain problems. Arts therapy can be a good alternative to talking therapy if needed.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is a type of therapy that is similar to CBT, but more tailored to conditions like Bipolar Disorder and some personality disorders. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is defined as:

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of therapy that is tailor-made for Borderline Personality Disorder, though can also be useful for many other conditions. The therapy runs on the basis that an individual is emotionally vulnerable, and that the individual grew up in an environment where emotions were dismissed and not treated. These factors cause an individual to feel guilty or ashamed for having upsetting emotions, which leads to more upset. DBT aims to change this system, using a range of techniques to help, with a focus on acceptance and problem-solving.

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a relatively new type of therapy that is being increasingly used in the treatment for trauma-based conditions. This is because it involves looking at past traumas. Conditions like Post traumatic stress disorder and Adjustment Disorder could benefit from this. EMDR is defined as:

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR): While more of a newer treatment, EMDR is an exciting intervention that has helped many people cope with trauma-based conditions. This therapy involves an individual moving their eyes from side-to-side, with the therapist directing their eye movements. During this, the individual recalls their traumatic experience. EMDR is believed to help an individual change how they think about the traumatic event, with the therapist aiming to facilitate change.

Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy is commonly used when the root of mental health conditions appears to involve issues with a person’s relationship with family members, friends and colleagues. It is mainly used for Depression. Interpersonal Therapy is defined as:

Interpersonal Therapy: Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a type of therapy that helps people with mental health problems to address issues with their behaviour towards family, friends and colleagues. It is primarily designed for Depression, but can be used for other conditions too. It revolves around the idea that a person’s mood is impacted by relationships with others, and vice versa. Therefore, by improving a person’s relationships with others, it should ease their psychological suffering. A range of techniques are used to achieve this.

Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy

Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is a form of therapy that looks deep into the mind of the patient. It is rarely used as a first-line treatment for mental health conditions. It typically takes place over several sessions. Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is defined as:

Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy: Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is a talking therapy that aims to help uncover and resolve unconscious beliefs that cause psychiatric conditions. Traumatic experiences that may or may not be buried in the unconscious mind can be highlighted and processed. Psychoanalytical psychotherapy involves talking to a trained therapist. The therapist can show the individual how early memories and past traumas have affected their thinking, behaviour and attitude in the modern day. Psychoanalytical psychotherapy is especially useful for any condition that involves past trauma. Renowned neurologist Sigmund Freud developed this therapy, which is typically completed over a long-term basis.


It is likely that over the coming months and years, that more therapies will be added. It is difficult for the NHS to balance everything, especially given that they have such a huge demand for their services.

Fortunately, many people find that these therapies can help them get towards a better mental wellbeing. Ultimately, the aim is for therapy to lead to remission of symptoms. Medication meanwhile is another alternative to therapy.



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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.