Mental Health

Mental Health – Taking control and finding your own therapist – Private VS NHS

First things first, this is through my experience that I can write this post. It’s subjective and therefore is just my opinion.

My experience

Now, a quick look at what happened to me. when I decided I wanted to look into therapy I went to the Doctors and got put on a super long waiting list (around 18 months I was told). There is such a huge number of people that go down this route. But, I wasn’t comfortable waiting this long and needed help asap so I did some research. I also find that a lot of the time doctors will just pump you full of pills to fix any issues whereas I wanted a more personal experience and someone I can build a report with. Along came Mary. After doing some research in my local area for counsellors and Therapists, I had a choice between a few potential therapists I could see. I chose an older lady who was experienced in anxiety and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).

All I had to do now was get in touch with her…easier said than done at the time. For me, phone calls were a big no and sometimes still are so I emailed her. I explained my situation and what I would want. From there, she emailed back explaining what she offers, the cost and a few available slots she had for that same week. The first time I went I went with my husband to reassure me and my anxiety which she completely understands and the rest is history really. I used to have a therapy session once a week and would leave feeling accomplished, relaxed and resolved over what we had discussed. These days, I only go to therapy when I need a reminder session if I slip back into old ways that is when I head back.

I do take pills that are doctor prescribed from a while back but I avoid taking them unless necessary. Usually on bad days maybe once a week I will take 1-2 pills. Before I started therapy I was on 3 pills a day, every day. Now, a quick break down about the major differences between Therapy through the NHS or going private like I did.

NHS Therapy

  • NHS is free – As you well know if you live in the UK. Using the NHS is free unless it’s for medications etc. So using therapy through the NHS means no money out of your pocket.
  • Group sessions – Unlike most therapists and counsellors if you go private. If you go through the NHS they have the added bonus of offering you group sessions which some people may find very useful.

  • Waiting times – As I have mentioned above. The waiting times for going through the NHS are ridiculous. Mine was 18 months which doesn’t seem an uncommon waiting time in the UK unfortunately. So, you may be waiting a while to get the help you need.
  • Quality – If you go through the NHS, generally the quality of care and support is limited to what they can afford so you won’t get as good a quality of service compared to going private.
  • Limited sessions – The NHS only allows up to 20 sessions for each individual. So if you need long-term help and don’t think it will be a quick fix, the NHS probably isn’t the best route to go.
  • Therapist rapport– Because you have limited sessions and quality of service it means that you won’t likely build that same rapport with your therapist as you would otherwise have my going private.

Private Therapy

  • Immediate Help – By going privately, the only thing that takes time is finding a therapist and booking a session with them. So you get help pretty quickly.
  • Cost – Obviously one of the biggest reasons people are put off from going private is the cost. But, it doesn’t cost the earth. It really depends on who you go to and what they charge. I pay £20 a time which I think it more than reasonable for how much it helps me.
  • Therapist Repor – By paying for your therapy you can have as many sessions as you want, as often as you need which allows you to build a great rapport from the get-go with your therapist. You find you start talking to them like a long lost friend even though they’re still helping you deal with your issues. It’s amazing having that person to deal with your issues properly
  • Flexibility – Unlike the NHS with set programs and tick boxes. Private sessions allow you the choice. When I first went in I was asked what I wanted to work on, what my issues were and what route I wanted to go down. I had the decision because I was paying the money. It’s so healthy to have that control when you’re dealing with your own issues.
  • Specialists – The NHS offers specific kinds of therapy that they give to everyone but everyone is different. When you look into therapists you will see the different types there are and what they specialize in whether it’s depression, eating disorders, anxiety or something more. I knew from the start I wanted to invest time in CBT therapy so that’s what I did and it’s worked perfectly for me.
  • Availability – Another downside to going private is finding therapists and there working hours. Some area of the country don’t have a large number of therapists available so you may be limited in this sense. Then once you’ve found one they may work only specific hours which can be difficult to fit in around a busy schedule.

I bet you can guess who I would vote for in the tally. I feel that Private has a huge advantage in comparison to the NHS.

Have you had experience of therapy through the NHS or going private? I would love to know what you think. Do you agree with my points? 

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