Frequently asked questions

Why is psychological therapy so popular?

It is now recognised that psychological and emotional problems are common. Even feelings of hopelessness and despair, and feeling unable to cope occur more than might be imagined.

There is now greater recognition of the help that psychological therapies can provide.

What does our service offer?

Our team of professionally trained and accredited practitioners are based in GP surgeries across West Kent. We provide psychological therapy to help people deal with common mental health and emotional difficulties.

Most types of therapy have more similarities than differences and our clinical team will be able to advise you on which may be the more appropriate therapy for the difficulties you are experiencing.

Talking Therapies focus on the thoughts and feelings that might be troubling you, as well as your relationships and any patterns that you may have noticed in your life. With your therapist you will explore, understand and tackle the obstacles that are making life difficult for you.

How long is brief therapy?

Step 2 therapy is usually four sessions. For most people, up to six sessions of brief therapy are enough For most people up to six sessions of brief therapy are enough. Your therapist will help you to assess your needs and discuss this with you, usually in the first meeting. Some people need a few less than this and sometimes others may require a few more. The main thing to remember is that the benefits of having treatment don’t have to stop when therapy ends: it will be up to you to keep putting what you have learned into practice.

How long do appointments last?

Your appointment will normally be between 45 and 60 minutes. Should a longer or shorter appointment be more appropriate your therapist will discuss this with you.

How long will you have to wait for therapy?

We aim to offer prompt consultations to help you decide whether our service meets your needs. Therapy usually starts within 28 days from when we hear from you.

When are you open?

Our main office is open from 8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Friday.  Therapy appointments are generally available between  the hours of 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday. 

When should I consider psychological therapy?

It may be that you have already though a lot about your problems, talked them over with other people and tried ways of helping yourself. This will have been an important step forward and it is possible that having a psychological consultation at this stage is unnecessary.

If you are uncertain about the seriousness of your difficulties, or if you feel that despite all your efforts, you feel that you have become stuck or reached a crisis point, then a psychological consultation may be right for you.

Is the service confidential?

We comply with NHS confidentiality guidelines. The issue of confidentiality is important and your therapist will be able to discuss this with you in detail.

Information relating to you and your treatment will remain confidential unless we have your consent to share it or where there is a risk to someone else.

There must be other people with problems worse than mine

Tackling psychological problems early on avoids more serious difficulties later.

Accessing the service

Accessing the Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service is quick and easy. You can contact us by Freephone, Freepost and email as well as through a referral by your GP.  Full details can be found on our main webpage.

What are your age restrictions?

You should be 18 years or over. There is no upper age limit.

Will I have to pay?

No. Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is an NHS service and offers assessment and therapy without charge.

Are there any situations or problems that you don't treat?

Yes. Our service is for people with common psychological or emotional problems where brief therapy is likely to help. There are situations where another service would be more suitable such as:

  • Patients who are dangerously self-harming, actively suicidal or a danger to others
  • People entirely unable to cope with everyday life, or in need of complex care
  • Active psychosis
  • Severe personality disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Drug or alcohol dependency
  • Patients who are receiving mental health treatment elsewhere.

If you have received treatment from the alcohol service, and are in and maintaining recovery (alcohol-free or drinking within the guidelines for safe alcohol use) and are experiencing difficulties not related to alcohol, we offer an initial consultation for you to discuss these with one of our therapists, and explore whether therapy would be helpful.

Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is not an emergency service and we are unable to offer urgent assessments or treatment. If  you need to speak to someone as a matter or urgency we strongly suggest you discuss your needs with your GP.

What is expected of me?

We find that the best results are achieved if you are committed, attend regularly and practice or reflect upon what you have learned in your therapy sessions. You need to be prepared to explore your difficulties in an open minded way and tolerate the more unpleasant feelings this may bring about.

Your therapist will discuss with you anything which might be useful for you to do in between sessions, such as reading self-help books, writing down your thoughts or paying attention to specific situations. One of the purposes and benefits of therapy is to develop personal awareness so that you know how things become difficult for you, and how you can improve them.

What happens if I take up psychological therapy?

At your first meeting with the therapist, you will talk about your difficulties to build up a clear picture of them and identify your goals for therapy. Our aim is to avoid giving you help you don’t need, but to make sure you get our help where it is indicated. If at any point in your therapy, or following completion of you therapy, it is felt that your needs may be better met by another agency we will advise you on how to access this help.

It is important that you arrive at your appointment on time so that you gain full benefit of your treatment. We aim to arrange an appointment that is convenient for you and generally, for your first appointment, we are able to offer you a choice of two appointments. However, if we are unable to meet your needs we will advise you of this and suggest contacting your GP who can discuss alternative providers with you.

If you begin psychological therapy in our service, a specific treatment agreement will be made between you and your therapist about what sort of work will be undertaken, the type of therapy that seems the most useful for you, and the aims and goals of therapy for your specific situation and attendance and cancellations.

It is essential that you do not miss sessions as therapy is most beneficial when it is regular and often. We ask that you let us know if you cannot attend your session. We understand that sometimes there are very good reasons for not being able to make it. Unfortunately we must discharge anyone who fails to attend without contacting us or if they are unable to attend two or more of their booked sessions.

Could my family be involved in my treatment?

We recognise that peoples’ problems can affect the people around them, and it can sometimes be helpful for families and carers to receive information about mental health issues. However this would be entirely your choice. For reasons of confidentiality, we do not share information with members of your family about your therapy unless you have given your written consent for us to do so.

We generally ask that families and carers do not regularly attend therapy sessions, although if you would like them to attend one we, would encourage you to speak to your therapist about this. Sometimes this can be a good idea, to share ideas and strengthen relationships, though usually this is done on a one-off basis. If you require assistance to attend our service, we are happy for people to wait in our waiting room.

What if I am currently receiving treatment elsewhere?

If you are in treatment with another agency to help you deal with your mental health problems we would ask that you complete your treatment with them prior to referring for therapy with the Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service.