Association of Pharmacy
Technicians UK (APTUK)
The Professional Leadership Body for Pharmacy Technicians


Dispensing assistant Megan has a question for technician Vicky.

“In my technician course, it mentions talking therapies alongside medication such as antidepressants for conditions like depression and anxiety,” Megan starts. “I thought that meant counselling, but when I googled it, a whole list came up!”

“Oh yes,” replies Vicky. “CBT, family therapy, interpersonal therapy, mindfulness, there are so many types.”

“But are they all basically the same thing? And if not, how? And when would each one be used?” Megan asks.


The term “talking therapies” covers a whole range of interventions:

Counselling is probably the best known and involves an individual talking to a specially trained counsellor to get their thoughts in order. It is particularly useful for people who are generally healthy but are experiencing a crisis, for example, a bereavement, serious illness, relationship breakdown or infertility

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) aims to move individuals away from unhelpful behaviour patterns and into a more positive way of thinking. It is often advocated for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, as there is a significant amount of supporting evidence. It can be delivered in one-to-one sessions, via online courses, or there are many self help books on the topic

Family therapy involves one or more therapists working with a whole household so they better understand the problems being experienced by their loved ones – such as, substance abuse, separation, sudden or chronic illness and behavioural issues – and so are able to communicate and work through them

Relationship counselling, sometimes known as couples therapy, sees both partners talking about what has gone wrong between them, learning about what the other needs and working on changing things to improve the situation

Group therapy involves several people who have a problem in common – such as alcoholism – working with a therapist on a sessional basis to support and advise each other, and reduce the sense of isolation

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is generally used for depression sufferers to help them identify and address problems that they are having in their close relationships

Behavioural activation encourages individuals, often those with depression, to adopt a more positive attitude and approach activities they are avoiding, for example getting into the habit of planning if this has been difficult and not doing so has held them back

Mindfulness supports people in focusing on their thoughts and feelings without becoming overwhelmed, and is helpful for a range of problems from depression and stress to anxiety and addiction. It is sometimes combined with CBT or techniques such as meditation. 

The bigger picture

A problem shared is a problem halved goes the popular saying, but sometimes it can be difficult to open up. Talking to a professional is a potential solution, bringing with it the benefits of a therapist’s experience and expertise, a non-judgemental and empathic listening ear with a degree of detachment, and, importantly, confidentiality. In some areas it is possible to self-refer for certain talking therapies on the NHS, with a referral needed otherwise. Waiting lists can be lengthy however, but there is usually an option to speed up the process by paying privately. 

Extend your learning

Originally Published by Training Matters

Related articles

Blood pressure screening and management

This CPD module provides an overview of hypertension, including the causes and risk factors, diagnosis, management ...

Clinical briefing: How far have we come on cancer survival?

Crucial advances have been made but there are still barriers to improving survival rates

Medication overuse headache

This pharmacy scenario is about medicine overuse headache and considers steps that can be taken to manage this type of h...

More articles

Signing off

In her last column as APTUK president, Tess Fenn highlights new opportunities for pharmacy technicians and announces her...

Learning from Gosport

Pharmacy bodies join together to support pharmacy sector to learn from failures of care at Gosport.

APTUK Presidency Handover 09.02.2019

On Saturday 9th February 2019, at the APTUK Professional Committee, Tess Fenn formally handed over the Presidency of APT...

This website is for healthcare professionals, people who work in pharmacy and pharmacy students. By clicking into any content, you confirm this describes you and that you agree to Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK)'s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

We use essential, performance, functional and advertising cookies to give you a better web experience. Find out how to manage these cookies here. We also use Interest Based Advertising Cookies to display relevant advertisements on this and other websites based on your viewing behaviour. By clicking "Accept" you agree to the use of these Cookies and our Cookie Policy.