What is Psychological Therapy?

There are many types of psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, psychoanalytic therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to name but a few. Each of them have their strengths and limitations but it is important to try to have a formal assessment by a trained clinical psychologist/psychiatrist/wellbeing practitioner and figure out what is likely to work best for you based on your situation. You may find that a combination of psychological therapies and medication may be needed possibly at some point of your cancer-free journey (or you may not need any at all) but this clearly depends on the extent of your state of mind and how this impacting you. In some instances, it may be that seeing your GP is therapeutic enough to maintain the status quo and regular follow-up appointments are sufficient to keep things in check. Other times, it may be that you are functioning well enough and just want access to local resources and self-help guides/leaflets (see Self Help Guides, Apps and Books).

If you are seeing your GP for the first time to discuss mental health issues, it is likely that the GP will signpost you to the local NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) community service (unless the GP is psychological therapy-trained and comfortable in managing mental heath, which may be the case) that tends to be a self-referral service; to find your county-specific service click here. A discussion about the option of medication(s) will likely take place as well. Importantly, there is no right or wrong answer as to which is better or whether both are needed, and often this will be a shared decision making process. In terms of making the most of the IAPT service, the more information you can provide the better as this will determine the level and type of therapy you may end up being offered; this can sometimes take the form of online therapy, group therapy or one-on-one therapy depending on the extent of the mental health issues and your situation. Furthermore, services such as Mind may also come in handy where they can provide a lot of support and valuable advice; to find your local Mind service click here.

Sometimes, if the depression or anxiety is too severe, IAPT may either refer you back to the GP and ask the GP to refer you to the adult mental health team (AMHT), or directly refer you onwards themselves – as part of the AMHT assessment you would be seen by a psychiatrist or a member of their team. Children under the age of 18 will often not be able to access IAPT and need to be referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) who have their own in-house psychological therapy services they can access. It is thought that around 10% to 17% of patients with cancer have clinically significant symptoms of depression yet a large proportion of these patients often go undetected or untreated for depression.

To do a self-assessment of your mood (i.e. for anxiety and depression), you can complete the mood self-assessment on the NHS website. If you’re struggling in general, it’s best to speak to someone and also book to see your GP.


Your Local and National Psychological Therapy Services


Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT)   

Mind, for better mental health (Mind)                                 

Find a psychological therapies service locally             


Another well known charity is the Samaritans who are opened 365 days a year



    non-NHS (private)

UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)                                                                                    

British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)         

 British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)                                      



For non-psychological and non-medication therapies, see Social Prescribing and Other Approaches


Health & Wellbeing Ideas  >>  The Power of the Positive Mind  I  How to Find Happiness in Life?  I  How to Calm the Mind?  I  How to Get You in the Holiday Mood?  I  Social Prescribing and Other Approaches  I  Self Help Guide, Apps and Books