Meeting with a Psychological Therapist – Patient Information Leaflet

This leaflet provides information about psychological therapy provided by the Trust's community services. It explains what a psychological therapist is and has information about what happens at appointments.

This leaflet may not be reproduced in whole or in part, without the permission of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

  • Introduction

    This leaflet provides information about Psychological Therapy in Community Services. You have been given this leaflet because you have been referred to Psychological Services. If you are not sure about anything in the leaflet please ask a member of staff.

  • What are psychological therapists?

    Psychological therapists have been trained to help people deal with emotional and behavioural difficulties. They may be clinical psychologists, nurse therapists, art psychotherapists, counselling psychologists, group or family therapists, all of whom have had specialist training.

  • What is psychological therapy?

    There are many types of psychological therapies but they all involve talking about your thoughts, feelings and behaviours in supportive, non-judgemental, and confidential ways. You and your therapist will work together to try and understand your difficulties and develop new coping strategies. It can be helpful for a range of problems such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders, self-harm, bipolar disorder, personality and trauma related difficulties, amongst others.

    Therapy may be individual (one-to-one), couple, family or group therapy. Psychological therapy can work well on its own, or it may part of a broader package of care.

    People of all ages, with long-term or short-term difficulties, can benefit from psychological therapy. However, if you find that it is not what you expected and you don’t feel it is helping, you and your therapist can discuss other treatment options.

  • What will happen at my first appointment?

    Your first appointment may be at one of a number of places, such as your GP’s surgery, local health centre, local psychology/mental health centre or at your own home. You may see the psychological therapist on your own, with a partner, or with your family. For some appointments, there may be more than one therapist present. If you come on your own, the appointment will usually last between half an hour and an hour. Couple or family appointments may last between an hour and an hour and a half.

    We may ask you to complete questionnaires to help us understand your difficulties and filling these in is entirely up to you. If you prefer not to complete them then this will not affect your treatment.

    The purpose of your first appointment, and possibly the next one or two, will be to work with you on understanding your situation. It will be a chance to talk about what your difficulties are and what you would like help with. The therapist may also ask about important recent and past events and relationships. However, you will not be forced to discuss anything that you do not wish to talk about. The therapist will usually have some information from your doctor, or whoever referred you, and will tell you about that, but will also want to hear from you about what you think is important. Sometimes you may be asked if someone who is training to be a psychological therapist can observe your session. You can refuse this if you wish. You might be asked if your session could be audio or video-taped for training. Again, you can refuse this if you wish. Refusing will not affect the treatment you are offered.

  • What happens next?

    You and the psychological therapist will discuss the best ways to help you with your concerns and whether psychological therapy will help you meet your personal needs.

  • Will I always see the same psychological therapist?

    Seeing the same person in therapy is important, so we shall do our best to make sure you always see the same therapist. Sometimes an assessment is done with one psychological therapist, and therapy is provided by another therapist.

  • How many times will I see the psychological therapist?

    The number of times you meet will be discussed with your psychological therapist and will depend on your difficulties and needs. You will develop your personal therapy contract with your psychological therapist and this will vary from person to person. You may need to continue with appointments for a few weeks, or months, or, in some cases, one appointment may be enough.

    Appointments are usually arranged between 9am and 5pm and may be once a week, once a fortnight or further apart. All of this will be decided jointly by you and your psychological therapist.

  • What helps therapy work well?

    Psychological therapy is a collaborative process. That is, you and your therapist work together as a team to find solutions to your difficulties. To make the best use of therapy we suggest that you agree your aims and what is important to work on with your therapist, and attend all planned appointments, where possible. Between sessions it is important that you use the time to think through your discussions and work on the things that you and your psychological therapist have agreed are important.

  • Will my sessions be confidential? Who else will know I’m seeing a psychological therapist?

    The psychological therapist will write to your GP and other relevant health professionals working with you, to let them know that you have met, and how things are going. If there is any information you do not want anyone else to know about, please discuss this with your psychological therapist. What you say to your psychological therapist during sessions will remain in confidence as long as it does not indicate any risk to yourself or another person, and does not break the law. Your therapist will discuss this with you.

    The Trust is governed by clear policies regarding the security of information about you. Referral details (name, address, name of GP) and progress notes are kept in an electronic data system (RiO). After each appointment the psychological therapist will make an entry on your electronic record to say that they have seen you and how you have been that day. These give an overview of what you discussed and plans for future work together and may be viewed by other CNTW professionals involved in your care. Only relevant professionals have access to this. In some cases, paper records are kept in locked filing cabinets.

  • What happens when the therapy is finished?

    Sometimes when you have come to the end of therapy with your psychological therapist you may agree to meet again after a gap to “follow up” on progress. Alternatively, you may agree that you have finished a piece of work and need time to take in and practise what you have learnt. You and your therapist will work together on completing your work in the way that suits you best. You may still work with another member of the Community Treatment Team and continue to see them until you have finished that.

  • What if I have a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint about the service?

    If you want to make a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint you can:
    • talk to the people directly involved in your care
    • ask a member of staff for a feedback form, or complete a form on the Trust website (click on the ‘Contact Us’ tab)
    • telephone the Complaints Department 0191 245 6672
    • email [email protected] Please note that information sent to the Trust via email is sent at your own risk
    • We are always looking at ways to improve services. Your feedback allows us to monitor the quality of our services and act upon issues that you bring to our attention.
    You can provide feedback in the following ways:
    – the quickest way for you to do this is to complete our short online survey at
    – complete a Points of You survey, available from staff.

  • Other formats, references and review

    Further information about the content, reference sources or production of this leaflet can be obtained from the Patient Information Centre. If you would like to tell us what you think about this leaflet please get in touch.

    This information can be made available in a range of formats on request (eg Braille, audio, larger print, easy read, BSL or other languages). Please contact the Patient Information Centre
    Tel: 0191 246 7288

    Published by the Patient Information Centre
    2019 Copyright, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
    Ref, PIC/392/0722 July 022 V5 Tel: 0191 246 7288
    Review date 2025