If you’ve never spoken to a therapist before, or even if you have, you will have some questions about what is involved. We have tried to answer some of these here.
If your question isn’t answered here you can always call us and ask directly. We welcome your call.
Who is eligible for your service?
You are eligible for our service if you are 18 years or over, and have a GP based in the Borough of Richmond (ie the GP Practice is a member of Richmond CCG). If in doubt give us a call.
Can you tell me about how your sessions are run?
We offer a range of therapies, which can be provided in a variety of ways depending on what you and your therapist agree on. All our therapy is in accordance with the NICE guidelines, so you can be confident that its effectiveness is based on evidence. It might be that you choose to use workbooks, computer programmes, or to attend seminars. We also offer one-to-one therapy sessions when needed clinically. You may be supported by phone, video call or have face-to-face sessions. This is very individual and something you decide together with your therapist.
Can you visit me in my home?
No we do not provide home visits, but we can provide support via the telephone or Skype. It may also be important for you to attend the centre for treatment within a group setting.
What about confidentiality?
The confidentiality policy is the same as it is with your GP, unless we are concerned that you or someone else is at risk of harm. We also work directly with a number of partner agencies who also provide a range of psychological therapies eg. Counselling. Following your assessment with your therapist, you will be involved in a discussion on the best treatment option for your needs. If this involves your referral being passed onto a partner organisation, then the information from your consultation will be passed onto the partner agency, who also will be bound by professional confidentiality policies.
We also keep your GP informed to ensure those who provide your care are working together.
Will my work/employer find out?
No. We do not contact anyone apart from you and your GP about your care.
I'm an asylum seeker, can you help me?
Yes. So long as you have a Richmond or Twickenham based GP we can see you for therapy.
What if I don't speak English?
We have a number of therapists who speak languages other than English, who we can sometimes match you with. If we cannot do this, we will arrange to use an interpreter.
We also have a range of materials in a number of different languages.
Are there lots of forms to fill in?
No. At the beginning of each session there is a short questionnaire to fill out. This covers a range of topics which might be affecting how you are feeling. These help us to keep track of how you are feeling and mean that our therapy sessions can be more focused on what you bring to the session. If you find filling in forms difficult you can either have a copy of the questionnaire to fill in during your own time or your therapist can help you on the day.
What if something comes up and I can’t make the appointment?
If you are unable to make your appointment, it is important that you contact the service as soon as possible, to cancel the appointment. A new appointment can then be made for you.
How will you contact me?
We can use phone, text, email and letter to contact you and will ask you which your preferred methods are when we first speak with you.
We will also make a note on the system if we are allowed to leave messages for you on your phone and/or send letters to your home address. This is to ensure confidentiality.
I work 9-5, how do I get help?
We are a flexible service and are able to offer appointments on Monday until Thursday evenings up till 8.00pm. We are also able to offer early morning appointments at 8.00am during the week.
I’m a relative, what can I do?
We cannot take referrals from relatives due to confidentiality. We also find therapy works best if the individual feels ready to seek help themselves. We suggest you direct your relative to this website so they can see what is available.
What happens at a seminar?
We invite 25 people to our Self Help Courses, which last for an hour and a half each week for 6 weeks. These are normally facilitated by two practitioners who will teach you a range of different skills and techniques based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. You will not be asked to introduce yourself or share your story. The practitioners may guide group discussions about the techniques, but any interaction is voluntary.
Our 12 Week CBT Seminars are run by one of our Cognitive Behavioural Therapists, in groups of 12 or less. In these you may learn more advanced CBT techniques or just have more time and support to master the techniques talked about previously. There is more opportunity to interact within these groups, but again this is voluntary.
What if I don’t want to share personal experiences / open up?
Our courses are focused on teaching you skills to manage the difficulties you are facing and we often say our hope is to do ourselves out of a job! Therefore we do not expect people to share personal experiences within the seminar but to use the space to learn techniques to better cope with these problems and become an expert in your own recovery.
However, you are welcome to approach the facilitators individually, or telephone us, if you have concerns that you would rather not share with the group.
At the start of all groups we discuss confidentiality and agree ground rules that help members of the group to feel comfortable and able to use the groups fully.
What if I might know people there?
In our experience this is a very small possibility. At the first session of all seminars we agree ground rules that help all members to feel safe and comfortable coming along. If you do know someone you can speak to the facilitator and discuss this with them.
I use recreational drugs- can I still receive therapy?
If your main problem is with substances including cannabis use, we encourage you to contact the local service provider Richmond Community Drug and Alcohol Service (RCDAS), contact details: 0203 228 3020, or, RCDAS.Referrals@slam.nhs.uk. If you have a minor problem with cannabis use, please do contact us for an assessment. We are likely to encourage you to engage in our Cannabis Recovery group to help you abstain from cannabis for 4 weeks, prior to engaging with a specific treatment for low mood or anxiety, and remain free from cannabis during treatment. This is so that you can engage fully in the treatment program that we offer, as we find that regular cannabis use often causes a significant difficulty with completing the treatment program.
I am already seeing a therapist; can I register for therapy with you?
If you are already having therapy elsewhere, we recommend you first review your progress with your current therapist. You are welcome to contact us for an assessment, particularly if you feel that things are not working for you at the moment. We will review your progress and make recommendations on how you might make progress in achieving recovery from your depression or anxiety difficulties. If however you do wish to proceed with treatment within our service, we ask that you are fully available and committed to therapy with us.
What if it is too hard to take so much time off work / or it is too time consuming?
The length of sessions has been carefully chosen for a reason. We would encourage you to see this as an opportunity to invest in your health and wellbeing. We offer seminars on different days and at different times, including in the evenings. The more flexible you can be in when you can attend, the earlier you may be able to access treatment.
What if only a fraction of time is devoted to me?
We run a number of courses looking at specific difficulties for example dealing with worry. This means that although the practitioner may also be helping other people, their questions or concerns are likely to be similar to your own.
My problems are very complex and individual - will a seminar really be helpful?
Mental health problems often feel very complex and personal. However, the techniques that can help different people to overcoming these problems are often very similar. These techniques have been proven to be very effective in helping lots of people to overcome these problems. We will support you to learn these techniques and how you can apply them to your own difficulties.
For particularly complex or severe problems our programme also gives you the opportunity to experience a highly individualised package of care. For example, you could attend a 6 week course to learn CBT based techniques, go on to further develop your skills in this with our 12 week course. Should you then need any individual support this can be highly personalised and focused as you will already have learnt all of the basics.
What if I end up helping others instead of myself?
In our experience, what you contribute is often reciprocated in mutual support when you are struggling with an issue. However, if you are struggling to apply the skills and techniques to your own difficulties our practitioners can help support you to get the most out of the seminar.
I am worried that having treatment with you will affect an insurance premium in the future
We hope that the following information helps you come to a decision about your treatment. It is rare in the physical health arena for a patient to decline treatment (eg for a twisted knee) for fear of their future insurability. Over 90% of patients who complete a course of treatment with us will recover. We want you to join them.
Life Assurance/Loss of Income Insurance
Insurance Companies are concerned with conditions that significantly shorten life or increase the chance of disability. A mental health condition that is unlikely to significantly affect this will not attract a higher premium.
Low mood, anxiety and depression are very common at some point in an individual’s life. About 20% of the general population will experience a mild-to-moderate mental health condition at some point. The insurance industry cannot afford to ignore one in five customers- nor does it need to.
Not all insurance proposals will result in the insurance company requesting a medical report from your GP. They have to pay GPs for these reports so tend only to be requested if there is a specific concern.
Information can only be released by your GP with your consent. It must be relevant to the insurance application and will be a summary of the information held rather than detailed contents of consultations and letters. You have the right to inspect any report before it is sent and ask that information that is irrelevant to the application be removed.
Where a patient has a past history of significant mental illness, typically the insurance company will ask specifically about psychiatric hospital admissions, suicide attempts and certificated time off work. This helps the insurance company distinguish the minority with a more severe illness from the 20% of the general population which has a mild problem. Records of this (admissions, emergency attendance and medical certificates) will probably be on your medical record regardless of any treatment you have with us.
Most insurers protect themselves with a clause that prevents a pay-out if the claim is as a result of suicide, alcohol or non-prescribed drugs whatever the past history.
Travel insurance policies don’t typically require a GP report prior to issue.
They may have clauses that exclude claims for conditions that you have experienced before. Not all do; so check the small print if you are concerned this is relevant to you.
GPs are sometimes asked by travel insurance companies, when a patient is admitted abroad or makes a curtailment or cancellation claim, whether they had a pre-existing history of a condition relevant to that which has resulted in their claim.
Mental Health issues do not, on the whole, tend to lead to travel or cancellation claims. So this may not be something you have to be concerned about.
Private health insurance
Our service is funded by the NHS. You may however be contemplating taking out private medical insurance at some point in the future.
Pre-existing conditions (whether physical or psychological) will typically be excluded from private medical insurance for a varying period of time. Some policies simply exclude mental health conditions regardless of any previous history. To some extent you get what you pay for and we would advise you to examine the terms and conditions of the policy prior to purchase.