NHS Talking Therapies Services

NHS Talking Therapies (formerly known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies or IAPT) is a national network of services providing free to access therapies for adults experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Here in Sussex there are three NHS Talking Therapies Services covering West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and East Sussex.

Talking therapies, or psychological therapies, are effective and confidential treatments delivered by fully trained and accredited NHS practitioners. They can help with common mental health problems like stress, anxiety and depression.

You can access talking therapies for free on the NHS.

The quickest and easiest way to access NHS Talking Therapies is to complete a self-referral. 

You can refer yourself directly, without a referral being made from a GP, or alternatively a GP or other health professional can refer you.

If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed about making a referral but would like to access help, you can ask your GP, health visitor, a friend or a family member to help you complete your referral form.  The confidential referral form contains questions to help the service better understand you and your situation and help us work out who might be best to help.

Help is available in person, by video, over the phone or as an online course.

You do not need to have a diagnosed mental health problem to refer yourself to an NHS talking therapies service.

Getting support as soon as you start having difficulties can help to reduce their impact.

You may be:

  • feeling anxious
  • feeling low and hopeless
  • having panic attacks
  • finding it hard to cope with day-to-day life
  • struggling with flashbacks and nightmares
  • feeling stressed
  • perhaps you're finding it hard to cope with work, life or relationships.

Other things that talking therapies can help with include:

  • worrying
  • obsessive thoughts or behaviours
  • fear of social situations
  • trouble sleeping
  • phobias

If you've already been diagnosed with a mental health condition you can still refer yourself to an NHS Talking Therapies service, or a GP can refer you.

Talking therapies can also help if you have mental health problems resulting from other physical health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, long-term pain or respiratory conditions.

NHS Talking Therapies services provide short-term therapies which are tailored to your needs and help you better understand you and your situation. Throughout the course of therapy offered, you will learn about tools and techniques which can improve your emotional health and that you can continue to use in the future. 

Which therapy you are offered depends on which one has been shown to be most helpful for your symptoms.

Here are a few examples:

  • Guided self-help – where a therapist coaches you as you work through a self-help course in your own time, either using a workbook or an online course.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – based on the idea that thoughts, feelings, what we do, and how our bodies feel physically, are all connected. CBT works to help us notice and challenge patterns of thoughts or behaviours so we can feel better.
  • Counselling for depression – a type of counselling developed for people with depression.

Talking therapies are offered in different ways, including: 

  • using a self-help workbook with the support of a therapist
  • as an online course
  • one-to-one in person, over the phone or through video consultation
  • in a group

Once your referral to your local service has been received, your referral will be processed in a few days and you will be contacted to arrange a time to speak to one of the therapists.

This initial appointment will be booked as soon as possible and is often over the phone.

The first appointment is a conversation to find out about your current difficulties. This helps us decide how we can best help you.

At the end of the appointment, we will discuss the support options available and agree a plan.

All NHS Talking Therapies Services aim to be flexible to make it as easy as possible for you to get the help you need. 

You can self-refer direct on the service websites listed below

Brighton & Hove

East Sussex

West Sussex