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

How can I access a talking treatment?

You can access a talking treatment in different ways. This page has information on accessing talking treatments through:

You can also access talking treatments through a private therapist or clinic. See our page on seeing a therapist privately for more information.

Through the NHS

You can access free talking treatments through the NHS, although this may depend on what's available in your local area and the nature of the problem you want help with.

You can get talking treatments on the NHS through:

  • self-referral – some services offer self-referral options, where you can contact the service directly to refer yourself for a talking treatment. This is more common for IAPT services. See the NHS service finder page to search for services near you and find out if you can self-refer.
  • your GP – see our pages seeking help for a mental health problem for more information on how to talk to your GP about getting help for your mental health.

What is IAPT?

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is a programme offering talking treatments for common mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. This programme is also called 'psychological services (IAPT)' in some places, as the government is in the process of changing its name.

Most areas have an IAPT service, however, some talking treatments are not available in all areas and the waiting times can be long. See the NHS Choices website to find your local IAPT service. Also see our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for more information about having your say in your treatment.

If you are finding it very difficult to access the service you want on the NHS, you could think about exploring options through the private sector. See our page on private treatment for more information.

Mind is actively campaigning to make sure that everyone has access to talking treatments when they need them. You can find out more about what we're doing on our campaign pages and see how you can get involved.

I had CBT when I was first diagnosed with depression, but due to limits I only had four sessions – it ran out when I was starting to feel better.

Through a charity or organisation

Some voluntary, community and charity sector organisations can offer you more affordable access to talking treatments, for example:

  • Your Local Mind may be able to offer you talking treatments.
  • Organisations, such as Cruse Bereavement Care, offer free counselling services if you have experienced the death of someone close to you.
  • Mental Health Matters (MHM) also offers a telephone counselling service and talking therapies in some areas.
  • If you are a student, your university or educational institution may have counselling services they can offer you.
  • Your workplace might offer an Employee Assistance Programme that could help you access a limited number of free therapy sessions.

You may also find websites offering free talking treatments online, but be aware that these sites might not offer professionally-trained therapists or adhere to an ethics policy. See our page on what to find out before starting therapy for more information on making sure you're confident in the therapy you choose.

You can also take a look at our pages about online safety for more information about how to safely find information and support for your mental health online.


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

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