• Theo

Does Therapy Work?

It’s one of those age-old questions, does therapy actually work? It’s becoming increasingly sought after and there are many different types of therapy available to treat anxiety disorders and other mental health issues. But is it worth it?

There are different ways to access talking therapies here in the UK. You can go through your GP, some employers have access to it or you can go privately. Personally, I’ve tried all three and there was definitely a noticeable difference.

Going through your GP

This is the most common way for the majority of the population. Whenever we have any concerns about our health, whether physical or mental, we visit our GP. Upon their assessment, we can get a referral to some kind of talking therapy. There are two types of therapy that you’ll probably be familiar with: counselling and CBT.

The first psychologist I was referred to made a huge impact in my life. Those sessions were where I gained an understanding of what was going on with me and how I would tackle it. Every session was encouraging and the psychologist would always go through specific situations with me.

The biggest downside of going through your GP is the waiting time. Resources are limited and as more people are struggling with their mental health, there is a longer waiting time. In recent times, some waiting times have been as long as a year. If you are at a crisis point in your life, waiting that long can seem unbearable. Thankfully there are other ways.

Another downside is that because of the high service demand, you can’t choose your therapist. That may not seem like a big deal as they are all qualified in their practice but actually, it’s crucial that there is some kind of connection. After all, we are human so there are some people we click with and others that we don’t.

Personally, therapy through the GP has been great at starting off my journey to recovery and often unearthed things that I may never have realised by myself. However, it’s not likely to “work” in the sense of a long-term fix, purely because the sessions are limited. A few people feel they are on the edge of a breakthrough and then they have no more sessions left so have to go back on the waiting list.

Going through your employer

As more and more people are struggling with their mental health, employers are now paying for professional services to give their employees quick access to help. The help may take form in online resources but can extend even to face to face counselling sessions.

The way it normally works is that you will have access to a portal of some kind or have a phone number you can call. The trained counsellor will give you advice and can also do a telephone assessment for your needs. They can then arrange an appointment with one of their therapists. These therapists usually have their own private practice and are paid for by the company. However, that once again means the sessions are limited.

In these sessions, a clear goal will be set so that it can be achieved within the few sessions. You are given regular sessions that will enable you to progress further in between each one and hopefully, by the end, you will be in a better place mentally. There is also the option to continue with that therapist privately a few months after, but that comes at your own expense.

The two main perks are that you can change therapist if you don’t feel well suited and the quality of therapy seems to be better than through a GP as their quality impacts the third party provider and the employer.

Going private

This is by far the least desirable option. Seeing a private psychologist will cost you at least £100 per session which quickly adds up to something less than affordable. You can get a referral through the GP again so that you go to someone experienced, or you can find your own way. The good thing is there is no commitment so you can try with different therapists until you find one that works for you.

A major benefit is that you can have as many sessions as you’d like providing you have the funds. Equally, that’s the drawback. If you run out of funds, you can’t continue with the therapy.

Personally, this was the least beneficial for me as it felt the psychologist was more interested in having a returning client rather than helping me overcome anxiety. I didn’t gain anything from the sessions but that’s not to say it doesn’t work for everybody.

There are more online services now like ‘better help’ as well as free helplines. Better Help is a paid service but more affordable than other private options. The thing is, therapy does work but as long as you can speak openly with a therapist who understands you and your values. It takes time to understand and process our emotions as well as dealing with serious disorders like anxiety or depression. Therapy isn’t a quick fix, but actually, it helps us reach the root causes of any disorders and once we alter those situations (if possible), we can notice a big improvement in our mental health.

Please feel free to share your experience with therapy in the comments and any recommendations. It can be a scary journey so knowing that others are going through it or have experienced it, helps.

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