How long do you have to wait for counselling?

A large majority of people wanting to have access to counselling are worried that having to wait too long could make their issues worse. Aviva, the health insurer, has just published its annual “Health of the Nation” report. In it, they report that 85% of people surveyed shared this concern about being able to start counselling and other talking therapy. (

More than half (51%) felt that a period of 2-3 weeks should be the maximum time anyone should wait to start counselling sessions after a referral from a GP. At the moment, NHS guidelines indicate that no one should have to wait more than 18 weeks. But counsellors in Hastings and elsewhere in East Sussex know of many local cases where the waiting time can be even longer than those 18 weeks.

According to the Aviva report, GPs too have worries about how long it can take for patients whom they have referred to be able to start therapy: 84% of doctors in the survey were unhappy about the long waiting lists which their patients faced.

The Aviva survey through up some other striking statistics about GPs’ views:

- 74% were prescribing medication (anti-depressants) when they believed that talking therapies would be more beneficial

- 68% agreed that there is a lack of support for them on mental health issues

- 77% believed that the workplace is one of the biggest cause of stress and anxiety, and

- 50% believed that their local trust provided a poor service for patients with mental health issues.

For those wanting to access counselling in the East Sussex area, the Counselling Plus charity can generally offer access to low-cost therapy within about 8 weeks:

The alternative is to approach a private counsellor in East Sussex. Most private counsellors would expect to be able to offer a first session within a week.



added at 12:03am on 24th March 2013

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