This year has seen a big increase nationally for referrals to IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies), numbers starting treatment and recovery rates.
Vicky Milnes in the Communications team meets some colleagues at Croydon Talking Therapies to find out more about their work.
Joanna Adamson, Senior Cognitive Behavioural Therapist:
I’ve been at Croydon Talking Therapies for almost four years. I started as a High Intensity Therapist and then joined the management team. The service has faced challenges over the last few years but with our recovery rates at an all-time high and staff wellbeing a priority, it is a fantastic place to work.
We’re a big team with 80 members. Over the last year our referrals have increased by a third – we’ve been getting out into the community, going to events, meeting with GPs and raising awareness about what we offer.
We know that there is a huge need but a lot of people are still afraid to come to therapy. There was a lack of awareness locally that we are here and we don’t have long waiting lists. We can offer people assessments and our low intensity treatments without a waiting list.
The feedback we get from clients is incredible. Sometimes they were sceptical and weren’t expecting it to be that helpful. We always try to find something that we can offer somebody that is as accessible as possible. We’re not just a CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) service; we offer online therapy called Silvercloud, workshops and groups, individual therapy, evening appointments. We’ll link them to support in the community and we can offer employment advice. It’s a huge array that we can offer people.
Sometimes coming to a workshop and seeing that other people have anxiety might be enough.
We also have a long-term health conditions team. There’s a big drive within IAPT to offer support to people with long-term physical health conditions. We have staff with special expertise in supporting people with COPD, diabetes etc. And they are sharing their knowledge with the team. Our colleagues at an Essex mental health trust have come in and shadowed the group for long-term physical health conditions and used this knowledge in their own Trust.
Genevieve Somerton, Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner:
My job’s a bit of a mix. I do low-intensity CBT interventions for people with mood and anxiety disorders. The IAPT model is stepped – most people start with a low-intensity intervention and if they need more support they can be “stepped up” for high intensity CBT. There’s something about working with a client group where you can help build their own autonomy to help themselves move forward.
There is something incredible about helping people recognise their own potential, helping people build up their toolsets. In a short space of time we deliver interventions that could be life-changing for people, helping them to think about the way that they process their world and react to it. The best part is when you discharge a patient, you see that they are in recovery and you see that they have made a few changes in their life that have had a really positive impact. There’s no feeling like it. It's amazing. I also work at UCL as a Course Tutor – the Croydon Talking Therapies (IAPT) team has a reputation for being a fantastic team. We’re successful because we communicate well with each other and work through hardships.
Ryan Woolhouse, Assistant Psychologist:
My role involves completing the initial assessments for service users and deciding which interventions would suit them or if they should be referred to another service. Outside my clinical work, I really enjoy the role of looking after the team’s wellbeing. As the team and caseloads get bigger, I spend time looking after the team so they can provide better therapy.
I run monthly wellbeing events which are really good fun and a lot of team members take part. We’ve had an awayday, games of rounders, building a missile launcher out of different types of materials, table tennis tournaments and quizzes. We run something different each month. We also have weekly mindfulness and yoga sessions and table tennis available for people to use. It’s quite a social team and it’s grown very quickly.