NHS Choices

Talking Therapies

Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a trained professional, rather than family or a friend. Talking to a professional can help us to understand the problems we have, resolve issues and generally feel better.

If you want to try a talking therapy, you can ask your GP. If counselling or therapy isn’t available at your surgery, your GP may refer you to a local psychological therapies service.

You may also be able to self-refer for talking therapy by contacting the psychological therapies service directly yourself. You may want to discuss it with your GP first.

Alternatively, assisted as well as self-help programmes and Apps. are available for NHS patients.

What are Talking Therapies?
What’s the process?
Types of Talking Therapies
Online Programmes & Self-Help Apps.

What are Talking Therapies?

Talking therapies is a term that covers all the various types of counselling and psychological therapy that exist. These can be delivered within different settings, as one-to-one, as a couple, as a family or within a group.

Different approaches to any problem/s are also available. However, the main approach within the NHS is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

CBT is more about the ‘here and now’. It’s concerned with how you think and act now, rather than focusing on difficulties in your past.

The aim of CBT is to help you understand how you think about yourself, other people and the world and how that affects your reaction to situations.

This will help you change how you think (‘cognitive’) and what you do (‘behaviour’), which are both linked to how you feel.

Counselling Session

What's the process?

A counselling or therapy session can last from 45 minutes to an hour and a half and can take place weekly or fortnightly, depending on the type of talking therapy.

When we meet up with a counsellor or therapist, we’re given the opportunity to talk about anything that is bothering us. It’s a chance to look at our problems in a different way with someone who will respect our opinions.

They listen without judging and guide us towards finding the answer ourselves to our problems. They let us go at our own pace. They give us time and the space to get upset, to get angry, to cry, to laugh or just think and reflect on our situation.

Talking Therapy Session

Types of Talking Therapies

Although there are lots of different types of talking therapies, they all have a similar aim, to help us feel better. Talking therapies can help with any kind of issue, from bereavement to anxiety around the onset of a serious illness. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression/low mood
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Addiction
  • Chronic pain
  • Low self-esteem
  • Stress
  • Bereavement
  • Relationship issues

Some people say that talking therapies can make everything better. Other people say that they don’t make problems go away, but they find it easier to cope with them and feel happier.

Online Programmes and Self-Help Apps

If you prefer to engage with an online self-help programme or App rather than face-to-face, below are some of the digital therapies available.


Ieso is a world leading digital health company specialising in internet enabled evidence-based psychological therapies.




Online Programmes and Apps


Sleepio is a digital programme that helps people overcome sleep problems.

It’s based on cognitive behavioural therapy often referred to as CBT (see FAQS page) and is being used by the NHS, and anyone suffering with insomnia who is willing to pay for the service.


Sleepio Logo

Fear Fighter

Fear fighter is an online programme for panic and phobias. FearFighter is available on the NHS in some UK areas. You’ll need a referral from your GP or another health professional. You can also pay to do the course privately.


Big White Wall

​A safe online community of people who are anxious, depressed or simply not coping with life’s challenges. They support and help each other by sharing what’s troubling them.

They are guided and supported by trained professionals.

In some areas you’ll need a referral from your GP or another healthcare professional, in other areas you can refer yourself.

If Big White Wall is not available on the NHS in your area, you can join for £9.99 per month for a six month subscription. The service is also available to students at multiple universities and through several private health insurers. If you are a member of the Armed Forces, a veteran or family member you can access Big White Wall for free.


Big White Wall Logo


Italk is a free service for NHS patients aged 16 and over with anxiety, depression or stress. It is delivered in partnership between Solent Mind and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

You are now able to self-refer to Italk. This means you can contact them directly without visiting your GP.



SilverCloud is a safe online space offering personalised programmes to help people experiencing a wide range of mental and behavioural problems.

At the moment, SilverCloud is only available via an NHS referral and some non-NHS organisations.

You’ll need to contact your local mental health service to see if SilverCloud is available on the NHS in your area.


To search for talking therapies in your area, please click here

Silver Cloud Logo


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