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Plan for major talking therapies expansion revealed

By Lilian Anekwe

Ministers have promised a major expansion in the number of psychological therapists available to people with depression and anxiety disorders, in a further victory for Pulse's Action on Depression campaign.

The Department of Health has published national guidelines on how PCTs should recruit and train the 3,600 extra psychological therapists needed to deliver its Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme.

The department had previously been accused of trying to deliver IAPT on the cheap, with a heavy reliance on junior staff such as graduate mental health workers, and a failure to finance training places for higher band clinical psychologists.

Under the new plans, the additional £170 million from the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review will be used to pay for ‘suitably trained therapists and expansion of psychological therapies services', the Government said.

By 2011 this will mean 600 extra training places in 2008/9, 1,435 in 2009/10, and a further 1,310 in 2010/11. All GP practices will have access to psychological therapy service by the end of the programme's rollout.

Mr Johnston said: ‘The national guidelines published today are an important step in securing access to psychological therapies for everyone who needs them.

‘The IAPT programme has already captured the imagination of PCTs up and down the country and is transforming the lives of thousands of people with depression and anxiety disorders in the areas that have been involved so far.'

Professor Pam Maras, president of the British Psychological Society and head of psychology and counselling at the University Of Greenwich, said: ‘In particular we welcome not just the financial investment, but the detailed work to derive curricula for therapists, the importance given to future training and provision of supervision for therapists delivering both high and low intensity psychological interventions.'

Depressed woman

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