Experiences of psychosis

Talking therapies

Many people were not offered any type of talking therapy or said that talking therapies were too difficult to access.
A few didn’t want counselling as they felt it was a ‘waste of time’, had found talking about their experiences too difficult, or felt that particular types of therapy might not deal with practical obstacles in their lives. Robert thought that talking therapy was ‘not a bad idea’ but that it felt like ‘talking to doctors’, which he didn’t want to do.
However other people spoke about their experiences of talking therapies.
Overview of talking therapies
People had had different types of therapy over their lives, such as psychodynamic therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), family therapy, person-centred therapy, and therapies that use a range of approaches. A number of people who had experienced sexual abuse had therapy specially designed for them.
People had different experiences of therapy, both positive and negative. Dolly felt that a six-week period of counselling ‘touched nothing’ and he felt ‘let down’. Arwen tried some ‘basic counselling’ but didn’t want to talk about how she felt.
Some people liked the ‘problem-solving’ types of therapy like CBT, while others liked therapies that allowed them time to explore their feelings and discuss matters in the past, like family issues.
People also liked the particular counsellor they went to see, and the different techniques counsellors gave them to cope with their everyday lives. One carer mentioned how useful family therapy was. Some people felt that just talking about their problems and feelings really helped them sort through their issues. People weren’t always sure what type of therapy they had received. Not all therapy was one-to-one; people also spoke about their experiences of group therapy. Some preferred the idea of individual counselling, and Simon went to group therapy but couldn’t see the benefit of it. However another person fought to get access to group therapy in hospital, and yet another found it very helpful as people helped one another: this last person has continued friendships with group participants outside of hospital.
Types of therapies and experiences
CBT orCognitive Behavioural therapy aims to solve problems or issues by setting goals. It is often a time-limited treatment and usually focuses on the ‘here and now’. CBT helps people identify different thoughts and behaviours which might not be helpful and aims to change them, often through practical exercises. People had mostly had positive experiences of this type of therapy.
However other people didn’t find CBT useful for the problems they were experiencing. One man, for example, was said by his carer not to have control over his thoughts so he could not challenge them. Instead he benefitted much more from an approach that allowed him to be mindful of observing himself and his separate psychotic thoughts.
Other ways of doing ‘therapy’
The benefits of talking were not confined to therapy. People also had a series of helpful ‘chats’ with support workers, doctors, people working for ‘Early Intervention teams’, and other patients, or they went on courses.
Others used techniques that they had read about (e.g. CBT), that they thought were similar to techniques in therapy.
Problems in getting therapy
A few people felt that the therapy they were offered was not long enough, and it was too difficult to get therapy. Arwen and Rachel really wanted specialised counselling for sexual abuse that they had experienced, while one person felt they had to go it alone.
Outcomes of doing therapy and recovery
Some people felt that therapy did not help them. However, other people who had done some or a lot of therapy found that their attempts to understand their feelings and behaviour in therapy helped them with their recovery. Whilst some people felt it was good to talk about problems, others talked about dealing with the guilt of abuse or conflict. People didn’t often see talking therapies as a substitute for medication, but felt that they ought to receive more talking therapies in addition to medication.

Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated April 2014.


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