Find our latest news and guidance surrounding the COVID-19 crisis here.

Skip Content

Psychotherapy in the NHS

Protect lives sign on side of road

Publication date: October 9, 2020

Psychotherapists are some of the hidden ‘key workers’, supporting people’s wellbeing at a time of great challenge and uncertainty.  Among some, there have been misconceptions of psychotherapy being a preserve of the rich and ‘worried well’ but our recent member survey showcases how UKCP members are working with some of the most challenging mental health issues across demographics making a fundamental difference to improve thousands of lives.

Expanding the NHS workforce

In a country where the NHS is synonymous with healthcare it is critical that those seeking support for these issues through their GPs or even hospital admission have access to therapies our members so expertly deliver.

Our recent member survey showed 60% of members have worked or currently work within the NHS and, of those not currently working in the NHS, 45% are interested in work in the sector. In the NHS Long Term Plan there was already a clear commitment to substantially expand the NHS workforce, but the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to increase both the scale and urgency of this.

In our conversations with politicians and senior NHS figures across the UK, we have consistently argued that this expansion must include much greater numbers of psychotherapists and counsellors, so that service users have access to the full range of appropriate therapeutic interventions.

Greater investment, greater access  

As COVID-19 continues to change the mental health landscape, UKCP is campaigning to prevent an over-reliance on the voluntary sector and unpaid work to address the burden of trauma and grief in healthcare professionals, care-home staff and the wider public.

With many of the economic and wider long-term ramifications of the pandemic yet to fully take hold, UKCP is working hard to gain recognition of the professional psychotherapeutic workforce who are ready and equipped to be part of the paid NHS response team to the growing mental health crisis. For too long, there has been a trend towards fewer opportunities for psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors to work in the NHS. In this time of great mental health need, now is the moment to reverse this trend for good.

You can read more about our wider policy goals and work here.



  • Violet says:

    There’s definitely a huge need. Many areas have no access to longer term psychotherapy or any types bar DBT/CBT on the NHS at all, while in others if the single therapist for the therapy you need does not see you as fitting you won’t get treatment. This happened to me , despite my CMHT psychiatrist of several years viewing me as a suitable candidate to receive therapy. It’s an awful situation to be. I managed to explore my own history and MH issues and essentially give myself therapy, but that should never be the case. Those with MH issues deserve real support and treatment to enable recovery, and psychotherapists should definitely be seen as crucial key workers. There’s a huge lack of psychodynamic therapy across all areas of the NHS and charities are left to pick up those who need therapy for trauma. It’s really frustrating to attempt to access the appropriate therapy.

  • Kristo says:

    I would recommend people read and discus Psychotherapy and the social clinic in the united states, soothing fictions by William Epstein in addition to his older book the illusion of psychotherapy, The Therapy Industry by Paul Maloney. The IAPT production line is near useless, empty data based on empty notions of recovery, burning staff out everywhere, secondary care has always been overwhelmed and is generally medical model driven causing more harm that it can do good burning out staff and harming people they are tasked to help -Gary Sidley’s Tales from the mad house is good here – massive and sustained over prescribing and over promotion of dangerous psychiatric drugs – the out of control medical model labelling everything that moves as ‘disordered’ Cracked by James Davies is good here – the internalising of social and political distress, David Smail for more on this, the way much psychotherapy colludes and enhances all of this – just look in the mirror for this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *