Counselling (talking therapies)
Talking therapies can be very helpful if you are experiencing stress, low mood, depression or anxiety. Around one in five people suffer from anxiety or depression every year, and talking therapies provide people with support and treatment to overcome these difficulties.
Depending on your problem and where you live in the UK, you may be able to access:
- Consultation and advice.
- Courses, workshops and groups.
- Guided self-help.
- Individual counselling and psychological therapy.
What to expect
You can find out all about what to expect from talking therapy, how it works and how it might help you, from our leaflet called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
If you refer yourself for counselling, the next step will depend on where you live. You will often have an assessment with a counsellor first. This may be in person or over the phone. The counsellor will find out more about you and can advise you on which form of help would suit you best.
If you think you are depressed, it would be very helpful if you filled in a questionnaire before you speak to the counsellor. This questionnaire, called the PHQ9, will give your therapist a better idea of what your problems are and what help you need. We suggest you complete the questionnaire which you can find here and keep a copy for your appointment.
Find out more
You can find lots of information about depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health disorders from our leaflets. You can also find advice on some ways of managing stress, loneliness and low mood, such as mindfulness.
The self-referral services on this page are not crisis services. If you need urgent help, you should contact your GP, go to your local A&E department or contact the Emergency Services by dialling 999.
If you are having thoughts of self-harm, you can find out more about help which is available and how you can help deal with these thoughts from our information leaflet called Suicidal Thoughts.
How do I refer myself?
You can refer yourself to your local talking therapy service using the links below if you know which city or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) your GP practice is in.
If you are not sure which CCG your GP practice is in, you can find out by entering your practice's postcode in this tool.
Please be aware that self-referral is not available in every part of the UK. Please search the NHS website or contact your GP if you cannot find your area below, or if any of the links are not working.
Local talking therapy services in England
Basildon and Brentwood Essex
Barking and Dagenham Essex
Calderdale West Yorkshire
Camden and Islington London
Chorley and South Ribble Lancashire
Fylde and Wyre Lancashire
Guildford and Waverley CCG Surrey
Greater Preston Lancashire
Hammersmith & Fulham London
Harrogate and Rural District Yorkshire
Kirklees (including Huddersfield) West Yorkshire
Leicester City Leicestershire
Milton Keynes Buckinghamshire
Morecambe Bay Lancashire
Newcastle Tyne and Wear
Nottingham City Nottinghamshire
Redditch and Bromsgrove Worcestershire
Scarborough and Ryedale Yorkshire
St Helens Merseyside
Telford and Wrekin Shropshire
Tower Hamlets London
Vale of York Yorkshire
Waltham Forest London
Wolverhampton West Midlands
Wyre Forest Worcestershire
Mental health help in Scotland
Self-referral for talking therapy is not routinely available on the NHS in Scotland. However, there are options available for online self-help courses, support groups, befriending schemes and self help books.
The Scottish Association for Mental Health website has an email where you can enquire about local services, and details of several local services you can refer yourself to.
Breathing Space is a free telephone helpline offering help and support to anyone suffering from mental health problems. It is open from 6 pm-2 am Monday-Thursday and 6 pm Friday-6 am on Monday.
Mental health help in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, there is no IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) service. This means that there is no NHS self-referral option for talking therapies in Northern Ireland. All referral is through your GP.
OCD UK gives a useful summary of the pathway to follow for seeking help. Although this relates to help for OCD, the process is similar for patients with depression and anxiety, who would access counselling through self-referral in England.
Contact is a charity with an independent counselling service, based in Belfast. It aims to provide crisis counselling to anyone living in Northern Ireland.
The Counselling Directory also provides a list of private accredited counsellors and therapists.
Mental health help in Isle of Man
The Community Wellbeing Service in the Isle of Man offers a variety of treatment options for people with mental health problems.
Mental health help in Jersey
Jersey talking therapies offers free services to over 18s living in Jersey. However, it is not a self-referral servce. You need to ask your GP or another mental healthcare professional to refer you.
While every effort is made to keep these details up to date, the company cannot be held responsible for links to NHS services. If you have any queries, please contact your GP.