A couple of weeks ago I contacted the Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service (They offer talking therapies and are part of the East London NHS Foundation Trust) to try and get some additional help for my anxiety and depression.
I was originally given their leaflet by my GP because I asked him about finding additional help; you can self refer, so I said I would contact them myself. I left it for a while but recently my depression became worse so I decided to see what they could do.
What they offer is limited because the NHS only endorse CBT, counselling and medication as mental health treatments; I am already having counselling (not via the NHS because they only offer a set number of sessions. I had ten with an NHS therapist who didn’t really seem interested) and I wouldn’t touch anti depressants again, so I guess I was going to be left with CBT, which would be better than nothing. I had CBT before via the NHS but it didn’t really work because I was fighting my old company at the time, and this hindered any progress, so it was agreed I would stop. I thought that maybe now it would be more effective.
I spoke to one of their consultants and we discussed the possibility of intensive CBT. There was concern from the consultant that my being in counselling could pose a problem, because they normally don’t offer therapy if someone is already receiving treatment. I explained that the counselling helps me on a number of levels so I am really reluctant to let it go. I am also enrolled in a counselling course, and while it is not necessary at this stage of my learning, having counselling can help.
The idea of ditching the counselling for CBT made me feel really scared; there was no guarantee that CBT would work for me, and as it was for a fixed number of sessions there could be a risk of being left in a position where I was still struggling, and had lost my counselling in the process (with waiting lists it is not something to give up lightly).
I was left confused why couldn’t I have more than one therapy? I guess I should have asked the question at the time, but my mind was not really on the ball. There doesn’t seem to be any information about this on their website either, so I e-mailed them.
This was their response:
We will always only recommend that individuals undertake one type of therapy at a time. This is for several reasons, firstly too much information at once can be very overwhelming and confusing which could have a possible knock on effect on any exsisting depression or anxiety. Also if you try everything at once it can be difficult to accurately determine which intervention works for you so can again lead to confusion. On top of that a combination of speaking about the past (counselling) and CBT (learning techniques to move forwards) can bring too many past and current issues to the forefront at once and can again lead to difficulties arising through becoming overwhelmed with emotion and information.
As a free NHS service we also recognise that we can only provide one option at a time to keep this fair for all patients therefore this would be another reason that you would be unable to take part in 2 styles of NHS therapy at one time.
E… signposted you onto a great self help site that we use. The reason that you are able to do this yourself is that reading through the website will not be as intense as taking part in CBT therapy so this would be a good resource to use while you are in counselling to provide you with some tips however as your choice is to remain within the Letchworth counselling service we would ultimately be unable to provide therapy.
If you did decide that you wanted to try the CBT approach in future we would ask that you stop your counselling sessions for the duration of the CBT treatment.
The above are based on the NHS NICE guidelines that are followed to ensure optimum treatment and recovery results.
I hope this answers the questions you have, if you would like to speak to me any further please just drop me an email or call the below number.
As well as confused, I feel really angry and helpless, I know the therapies that are out there including CBT, meditation and tapping (EFT), and I know they can help. My problem is that I struggle to do them by myself, hence why I wanted some physical support (I did explain this to the consultant). Cost is also an issue; I can’t afford the fees most therapists’ charge, and can only do the counselling because they offered me a discount because of my situation) so I thought the NHS would help.
I am left with a couple of concerns.
With regards to your first point, you say it is a recommendation that multiple therapies are not used, however you have decided this for me. It is not a case of trying everything at once, I have been having counselling for years and all I want to do is add one treatment, so I don’t see there would be any issue with knowing what is helping, or not.
Surely any issues raised by the CBT could be run through during the counselling? I have been struggling for years so seem pretty aware of all the past and current issues and it is these I am looking for additional help with.
Your second point is not valid; the counselling is not through the NHS, so at the moment I am getting no help from the NHS.
I don’t really see that it is fair for you to set the rules as though everyone is the same; I feel as though I am being refused help because of guidelines rather than taking my individual case into account.
Giving up the counselling causes me more anxiety because there is no guarantee of the CBT working. If CBT did not work and I had given up counselling, what would my options be then? Everything the NHS offers is limited so where is the long term help for me?
Their response was pretty feeble:
Thanks for getting back in touch.
To address your concerns, the recommendation for not using multiple therapies has not come from myself – this is our service policy. If you are in counselling we are unable to provide support.
I advised that you could not take part in 2 NHS therapies at once as I had read this statement:
‘I am a bit confused as to why I can do two therapies myself, but not through the NHS.’
And from this thought you were referring to having 2 therapies through the NHS.
Although we do judge things on an individual basis we have criteria’s that we follow and unfortunately receiving help from other agencies at the same time as ourselves is one of the main things we consider for accepting patients into the service.
We are not refusing to help, we are saying we can provide CBT however this cannot be at the same time as you are having counselling.
NHS therapies are time limited unfortunately and although we would love to provide open ended assistance, this is not realistic or feasible through the NHS.
If you feel that you have been treated unfairly or would like to speak to a manager then please do let us know, alternatively if you would like to raise a complaint please see below links.
Is this why people feel alone, helpless? Is this why people give up, because they can’t access the full scope of help they need? It’s NHS or bust?
Guess I’ll have to try and find another way……
Thank you, thank you, thank you