What is psychological therapy?

Psychological therapies are also sometimes known as talking therapies.

The term therapy does not describe a single method. It is an umbrella term for a range of approaches drawing from a variety of models and theoretical backgrounds, delivered by different psychological therapy professionals.

Learn more: What is PT (docx)

Key features

Talking therapies are becoming increasingly popular, and whilst individual types of therapy differ, they are likely to have the following features in common:

  • You will talk with a psychological therapist who has some specialised academic and practical training.
  • Psychological therapists are required to abide by a code of conduct and have their practice clinically supervised.
  • The focus of therapy will often be on a particular issue that causes distress or difficulty in daily living. The aim of psychological therapy is to help with the symptoms of the problem, increase your understanding of your issues and enhance your overall wellbeing.

Is it effective?

Unlike many medical interventions, where a particular form of treatment (e.g. medication or surgery) is given, most psychological therapies will require collaboration and active involvement if they are to work effectively.

Effective psychological therapy should:

  • Provide you with a clear plan for your therapy.
  • Focus on current, relevant problems.
  • Be delivered by a therapist who can establish a good therapeutic relationship or rapport with you.

This last factor in particular — a good relationship between the patient and therapist — is critical in achieving a positive outcome. More so than any given model or approach.

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Page last reviewed: 31 August, 2022