Talking Therapies CBT – my experience

They say that mental health help can bring a lot of emotions to the fore.

I’m not sure anger and exasperation should be among them – at least not when aimed at your therapist.

Okay, no, that’s inaccurate of me. The person I saw wasn’t a therapist. They were a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) – someone basically trained as the first rung of mental health support in the Talking Therapies system.

I’d waited for an appointment for almost a year, so I think my slight disgruntlement was founded when I realised that the person I was seeing wasn’t what I’d hoped for.

PWPs are, in their own words, trained to offer some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for mild or moderate Depression or Anxiety – not both, note. Depression OR anxiety. I was told that, despite the doctor suspecting I had both, the PWP could only help me deal with one. I’d have to pick which one I wanted to address, and then go back through the waiting list if I wanted help with the other. It wasn’t even a case of talking about my general problems – I had to pick either depression or anxiety to get help with, and go from there. The PWP couldn’t even confirm if I do indeed have depression (because I’m not fully convinced) or talk about if the medication effects I’m experiencing are normal.

This all happened at the start of my first appointment, but I tried not to let it deter me. I was going to at least try.

Then the PWP said something which really made me annoyed. To paraphrase slightly: “I’d like to say I can help you, but I really can’t make any promises. I know what help I would suggest, but I can’t offer it, so lets try what I can offer in this capacity, since you’re here. Then once we’re done, you can ask your doctor.”

My mind had trouble wrapping itself around this. She couldn’t say what was wrong with me. She couldn’t comment on whether I was depressed or not. Despite this, she basically thought she couldn’t help me . . . but wanted to go through the motions anyway, and then discharge me afterwards, back into the kerfuffle of GPs and referrals and waiting lists.

I went away from my first session annoyed and upset, and a bit confused. I was expecting help, but had basically been told there was none.

To really add insult to injury, the PWP then cancelled my next three sessions with less than 24 hour’s notice (the agreement was that if I cancelled, I had to give more than 24 hour’s notice, but apparently they do not), and after the third cancellation I got some vague promise that they would schedule another appointment soon.

Luckily, with enough nagging and crying from me, my GP agreed that I needed better help, so put me onto the list for Psychological Therapy – which amazingly has a waiting list of 2 weeks, and sounds a bit more promising. It’s still supplied by Talking Therapies though, unsurprisingly, so I’m trying not to be too optimistic.


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