Being infected with hepatitis C or HIV from blood or blood products may have affected you and your family members in different ways. This may include having an impact on your psychological wellbeing or mental health.
Support is available through talking therapies, also known as psychological therapies, and this page provides information on how you can access this.
There are two options available to access talking therapies:
- NHS talking therapies.
- The England Infected Blood Support Scheme (EIBSS) – counselling and talking therapy funding.
NHS talking therapies
NHS talking therapies, or psychological therapies, are effective and confidential treatments delivered by fully trained and accredited practitioners. All forms of talking therapy involve working with a practitioner, who can help you speak about your situation and find ways to manage.
There are a number of NHS services who can provide you with support, and help you to better manage conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and long term health conditions.
Most talking therapies are provided through Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. A GP can refer you, or you can refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT) without a referral from a GP.
What happens when you refer yourself?
- Someone from your local IAPT service will get in touch, usually within a few weeks.
- They'll ask for more details about the problems you're having. This is known as an assessment.
- If the service thinks they can help you, they may recommend a therapy for you or suggest other forms of help from the service or elsewhere. This is based on your symptoms and how severe they are.
- Waiting times for a first session of therapy vary. The service will tell you what to expect.
There are many different types of talking therapies and they all involve working with a trained therapist. For some problems and conditions, one type of talking therapy may be better than another.
You may wish to know more about talking therapies before deciding how to find help.
What type of talking therapy would be best for me?
Different talking therapies are designed to help people with different types of conditions.
Making a decision by having an assessment
The best way to understand if talking therapy could help you is to review this with a suitably qualified practitioner as part of an assessment of your needs. You can also discuss what type of talking therapy would suit you. This can then lead to a shared decision about a way forward.
Some people have this sort of assessment through an NHS talking therapies service. You can refer yourself to one of these services. You don't need to go through your GP. You can visit the NHS website to find your local NHS talking therapies service.
Other people may have this sort of assessment through another part of the NHS mental health service, or from an independent practitioner or therapist. It is good to find a practitioner who can help you decide between a number of choices, not just recommend the therapy that they provide.
Considering the evidence
When deciding which type of talking therapy would be best for you, it is important to bear in mind which therapies have the best evidence of success for different types of conditions. You can then look for a practitioner who is fully qualified and registered/accredited in one of those approaches.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides guidance around the treatments of choice for some conditions.
The following conditions are listed with the NICE recommended treatments.
- Guided self-help based on cognitive behavioural therapy principles.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy.
- Interpersonal therapy.
- Couple therapy.
- Brief psychodynamic therapy.
- Counselling for depression.
Anxiety disorders which can include, panic disorder, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, and generalised anxiety disorder:
- Guided self-help based on cognitive behavioural therapy principles. This is not advised for social anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy.
Post-traumatic stress disorder:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy.
- Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EDMR).
In practice, individuals may experience conditions or issues for which there is no specific NICE guidance. In these cases, it is recommended that you ask a practitioner what evidence there is for the effectiveness of different treatment options. You can then take this into account when making a decision.
A good relationship with the therapist is really important
In all psychological therapy, the relationship between you and the therapist is important. You need to feel confident that you can work well together and that they have understood the issues you are facing. They should also be warm and empathetic, and consider your preferences for treatment.
Factors to consider
You might want to think about the following factors to help you choose the right practitioner for you:
- The relationship with the practitioner or therapist.
- The specific type of therapy and evidence that this could help you.
- The qualifications and experience of the practitioner to deliver this therapy.
- How and where the therapy is delivered – in person or remotely.
- Clarity around what is being offered – frequency and duration.
Additional useful links
What if you are unable to access NHS talking therapies?
Once you've considered what's best for your situation, you might feel that NHS talking therapies are not suitable for you, or they are unable to help. You might prefer to access support for your mental health from elsewhere.
The EIBSS can offer funding to access counselling and talking therapies with a private therapist of your choice.
The EIBSS - counselling and talking therapy funding
The EIBSS is able to provide up to £900 per year, towards counselling and talking therapy costs for private treatments. This is for someone who has been infected by blood products and is also available for their families.
Funding is available for:
- the cost of an assessment with a registered therapist
- the cost of talking therapy sessions
Who can apply for talking therapy payment?
To apply for the talking therapy payment, the applicant must be either be:
- an infected person who is registered with the EIBSS
- a bereaved person who is registered with the EIBSS
- family members of an infected person registered with the EIBSS or previous schemes
How to apply for talking therapy
To apply for funding through England Infected Blood Support Scheme, the applicant must send a:
- completed counselling discretionary one-off payment application form (PDF: 311KB)
- medical letter from a registered therapist confirming the cost of the assessment
If you're a family member of an infected person and have not received a payment from us previously, complete a contact preferences and personal details form (PDF: 125KB).
Alternatively, the applicant can send a medical letter from a registered or accredited therapist confirming the cost, number of therapy sessions required, and confirmation of which approved registration or accreditation for counsellors or therapists they have.
How to find a registered or accredited psychological therapist
When trying to find a private therapist, it's important to make sure they're appropriately registered or accredited with a professional body.
We're able to fund therapists accredited or registered with the:
- Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
- British Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Psychotherapies (BABCP)
- United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
- British Psychoanalytic Council
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
- National Counselling Society (NCS)
- Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC)
Registration or accreditation with a professional body means that the counsellor or therapist meets the standards of proficiency and ethical practice you would expect.
If you’re under the care of a specialist, the treatment centre you attend might be able to refer you to services in your area.
Your GP can also offer advice on local NHS services for support with your mental and physical health.