When it comes to seeking help for subclinical mental health issues i.e. not psychosis conditions, there are two main options available to individuals in the UK: accessing therapy through the National Health Service’s (NHS) Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) program, or seeking private therapy. While both approaches aim to provide effective treatment for mental health concerns, there are some significant differences between the two.
One of the most obvious differences between IAPT and private therapy is cost. IAPT therapy is provided by the NHS and is free at the point of use, while private therapy comes with a cost, which varies depending on the therapist’s qualifications, experience, and type of therapy being offered.
Private therapy may be more expensive on paper, but there are other considerations that you should factor in, something we will cover in the rest of this blog post.
Another significant difference between IAPT and private therapy is waiting times. IAPT therapy typically has a longer waiting time compared to private therapy options. For fairness, we should just pause for a moment and talk about some numbers. The number of referrals in 2020-2021 to IAPT was 1.46 million people, in the same period 1.02 million persons accessed an IAPT service and 639,649 referrals completed a course of treatment. This is an industrial-scale operation.
There is always a high demand for NHS mental health services and a limited number of trained therapists available to match that demand. Private therapy, on the other hand, may offer quicker access to therapy, with some therapists offering same-day or next-day appointments.
The type of therapy offered can also differ between IAPT and private therapy. IAPT provides therapy in different ways; using a self-help workbook or website with the support of a therapist,
one-to-one in person, over the phone, through video consultation, or in a group.
With IAPT therapy, individuals may not have a choice of therapist as they will be assigned to a therapist based on availability. In private therapy, individuals can choose their therapist based on their qualifications, experience, and therapeutic approach. This can be beneficial for those who may have specific requirements, such as a therapist who specializes in a particular mental health concern or a therapist of a specific gender.
At this practice, before a booking can be made, there is a bookable telephone chat, to discuss and tick through any requirements, and other questions you may have to help you make the right decision on which practitioner you would feel comfortable working with.
Closing thoughts – key takeaway – seek help if you need it
In conclusion, it is good to see that today there are more options and resources available for the public, to help work on mental health issues. The decision between the two will depend on individual preferences
It may seem unusual for a private practice to write a post on alternative options, but from my point of view, regardless of the choice, seeking help for mental health concerns is an important step towards recovery and better mental well-being. If you take anything from this short blog post today, make a decision to do something, and do something today.