Talking treatments

Explains what talking treatments are used for, what happens during therapy and how to find a therapist.

Your stories

The importance of choice – access to talking therapies

Al blogs for us about the importance of choice and having access to the right talking therapy to suit you.

Posted on 02/12/2013

Life in limbo – waiting for talking therapy

Francesca blogs about the impact of waiting for talking therapy, as part of our We Need to Talk campaign.

Posted on 28/11/2013

On my therapist, who was always there

Brooke blogs on how important it was for to have one person she could turn to throughout her recovery.

Posted on 09/03/2017

What are talking treatments?

Talking treatments are a type of treatment that involve talking to a therapist about your thoughts and feelings. A therapist is a person trained in one or more types of talking treatment. Talking treatments can help you manage and cope with:

  • mental health problems
  • physical health problems
  • difficult emotions
  • difficult experiences.

The purpose of talking treatments is to help you understand your feelings and behaviour better and, if you want, to change your behaviour or the way you think about things. You may talk about things which are troubling you, and it can be a time to explore your feelings.

There are lots of different types of talking treatments, which use different styles and techniques to help you, but they all have the same goal: helping you feel better able to cope with your emotions and the things that happen in your life.

See our page on how talking treatments work and types of talking treatments for more information.

I don't feel so chaotic and I certainly don't have the awful feelings I used to. I need to keep working at it though – it's not a cure all or quick fix but it is working for me.

Different terms for talking treatments

There are several different terms people use to refer to talking treatments, and this can feel a bit confusing sometimes. You may hear the following words used:

  • counselling
  • therapy
  • talking therapy
  • psychological therapy
  • psychotherapy

These terms can often be used interchangeably, but sometimes they can refer to a specific type of talking treatment. See our page on types of talking treatments for more information.

Is there evidence that talking treatments work?

It is difficult to assess exactly how effective talking treatments are compared with other services, as there has been relatively little research into talking treatments until recently. Some talking treatments have been researched more than others and have received more funding.

Some therapies have been developed for certain mental health problems, and they can be more effective for some problems than others. See our pages on different mental health problems to see which talking treatments are recommended for each diagnosis.

It depends on the person, in my opinion. Some people find specific sorts of therapy more effective than others.


This information was published in February 2016. We will revise it in 2019.

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