Clients’ Experiences of Touchstone IAPT

Coming into therapy for the first time can be daunting and it can be difficult to know what to expect. Some of our past clients have kindly answered some questions or written about their experiences of Touchstone IAPT to give an insight into what therapy is like and how it may help.  So if you are wondering if Touchstone IAPT can help you, we hope these stories will inspire you to contact us.

 

My Experience of Touchstone IAPT

What prompted you to contact the service?

Experiencing unmanageable levels of anxiety. A friend recommended the service and said it could help alleviate what I was feeling.

What did you need help with?

I needed help dealing with my negative emotions and to increase my sense of overall worth. I also realise now that I needed to develop my tolerance of uncertainty.

What things were you struggling with before you came to the service?

A fear that my parents were going to die or get ill and I would have no way of supporting them. However, general feelings of inadequacy encroached on all areas of my life and I knew if I did not seek help it would only worsen with time.

What worries did you have about starting therapy?

That It would not work and I would be stuck in a cycle of self-hatred forever.

What were the sessions like?

Empowering and realistic. Carlyn helped me see that I was not such a bad person after all and to have a more balanced perception of situations.

What did you learn?

The positive log, the evidence for and against a situation and finally that how people behave is not necessarily a reflection on me.

Do you still do things that you covered in the sessions?  Or do you not need to?

I do. It is important to use the same sort of approach when feeling anxious.

What do you think has changed for you since before seeing your therapist?

I am more accepting of others and myself and feel more optimistic that I can work to make life feel less painful.

What would you say to someone who was coming to the service for the first time? What would you reassure them about?

You are not born to be sad and you can train your mind to do as you wish it to.

Anything else that you would like to add?

Carlyn is an asset to the service. I am truly grateful to her for basically helping me to start to rewire my way of thinking.

 

My Experience of Touchstone IAPT

Jason’s Story (not real name)

I have been having problems with depression and anxiety for as long for as I can remember, it was at a point where it was getting close to me not being able to go to work. I mentioned it to my doctor and he mentioned can you refer to the IAPT service. I had already attended some sessions of another type of therapy called ‘Guided Self Help’ in a different service. I then moved house and the person suggested I access Leeds IAPT for further therapy.

I then came to meet my therapist and started CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). By this point I had had lots of changes in my life, a lot of stress and pressure which was all adding up. It is the right time for to get some help.

Before I came to see my therapist I was worrying about coming to the session and what it was going to be like. One of the big worries that I had was that I wasn’t unwell enough and I was going to be told that everything I was feeling was normal and they wouldn’t be able to help me. At that first session my therapist reassured me of these worries by listening to my concerns, she talked me through the process and what the treatment might look like. I really valued that she spent a full few sessions just to listening to me and understanding the different sides of how I was feeling.  I felt listened to and supported, she took me seriously. I saw my therapist for 6 months where we covered lots of things. Over this time the most useful thing overall was that CBT helped me to understand my past experiences and how they affected me so that it made it easier to do the strategies that my therapist gave me for homework. This meant that I could do the things I needed to do to get better.

I still need to do things to look after my mental health, it is still something I have to make a conscious effort to do every now and then. I refer back to the material and homework that my therapist gave me and continue rehearsing them so I can build new habits. I am making progress with this. I have good days and bad days. But now I have more of the good days and the bad days aren’t as bad as they were before. I feel more able to break out of unhelpful patterns and more accepting that there is going to be a lot of pressure and that this is ok. Now I realise that when this happens I don’t have to cling to it and let it affect my whole week. I have more control over how I am feeling and I try to not put as much pressure on myself when I have a bad day but I am still working on this!

 

My Experience of Touchstone IAPT

What prompted you to contact the service?

Anxiety made me struggle to cope with my four-year-old daughter even though nothing she was doing was particularly bad – but I found I got completely overwhelmed if she didn’t respond to me and I couldn’t control my emotions.

What did you need help with?

I’ve struggled on and off with depression all my adult life and considered the anxiety to be just a part of who I was, but when the anxiety became a bigger issue I knew I had to deal with it

What things were you struggling with before you came to the service?

Coping in unpredictable situations, being around other people (I’ve always had social anxiety to some extent and again assumed it was just the way I was), controlling my emotions, keeping my worries under control

What worries did you have about starting therapy?

That I’d feel uncomfortable and unable to open up properly, so I wouldn’t get any benefit. I’ve had counselling before and never “clicked” with the counsellors so it didn’t really help me.

What were the sessions like?

Friendly and relaxed, but I was also prompted to answer things properly rather than being evasive which forced me to get to the source of my problems better. I didn’t expect it would be as effective as it was

What did you learn?

That it’s not normal to worry so much about things and that I can put some worries aside as they’re not current. That not everyone suffers anxiety to the extent I do, and so there are things I can do to address it and lessen its effects.

Do you still do things that you covered in the sessions?  Or do you not need to?

I still try to “sort” my worries and set aside the things I don’t need to focus on

What do you think has changed for you since before seeing your therapist?

I’m more in control of my anxiety – it’ll never completely go away but it doesn’t always have to rule my life as it used to do

What would you say to someone who was coming to the service for the first time? What would you reassure them about?

Even if you’re not sure it’s for you it’s worth trying at least one session. You need to put some work in to get the most out of the therapy but it is worth it if it can have a positive impact which will make a real difference to your life

Anything else that you would like to add?

My therapist was absolutely fantastic, the progress I made wouldn’t have happened without such an understanding and insightful therapist. She really got to know me which made such a difference.

 

My Experience of Touchstone IAPT

What prompted you to contact the service?

I have suffered depression and anxiety for a long time, I had an accumulation of pressure from lots of things. I lost the ability to manage with stress, I was having breakdowns all the time.

What worries did you have about starting therapy?

I have a massive problem with trusting people, I find it difficult to speak with anybody. I didn’t have much of a life. I was closed and was frightened of how it will go. I was worried that someone would get my information. My therapist explained to me that information was stored safely and not everyone have access to it. I was nervous about coming and talking to speaking to someone.

I had short term therapy before but it wasn’t deep enough. This was the best therapy I have had. I find it hard to open up to people. I find it difficult to explain what is going on.

What were the sessions like?

The sessions were nice, it was my first male therapist. I appreciated his thinking and his approach. He came with a practical and realistic perspective. We went through some of the problems and left emotions to one side. I am trying to apply the approach whenever I can. I can now think more clearly.

What did you learn?

To try and take little steps, break the big issues into smaller chunks. I learnt not to see it as too overwhelming. I try to focus on one part of my life at a time.

I am trying to look after myself better. Sometimes I struggle to look after myself.

There is no need to feel guilty to do nice things for yourself. I have learnt that there is no point in waiting for someone else to do everything for me. I need to do it to gain perspective on things.

Do you still do things that you covered in the sessions?  Or do you not need to?

I try to use the techniques as much as I can.

What do you think has changed for you since before seeing your therapist?

I am still trying to improve how I am feeling. I have gained a better perspective on things, I have gained a lot of focus. I now have some strategies and know that there are different ways of dealing with things. I am now getting better at not taking things personally. This has been a big learning curve for me.

What would you say to someone who was coming to the service for the first time? What would you reassure them about?

I would say to take it easy, to not be afraid.

Anything else that you would like to add?

It was helpful in the short term. I think that it has been successful. It is a great organisation and do some amazing work.

 

My Experience of Touchstone IAPT

What prompted you to contact the service?

I have been on and off depressed for the past 24 years, becoming worst as time progresses.  I was full of hate and I was always angry. I felt used all the time and there were so many times when I just wanted to end my life.  Then in July 2017, my husband tried to commit suicide because of the feeling of guilt for not being with his dad when he passed away.  I tried to deal with our situation on my own  and supported my husband when he has his therapy. But one day, I just broke down and I cannot stop crying and just really feel so sad and lonely that I just finally wanted to ‘rest’ so as not to feel this melancholy.   My husband encouraged me to get medical help. It’s that time when I fully realised that I need help so I went to the GP and they advised me what to do.

 

What did you need help with?

Insomnia, anxiety, trauma and anger rooted in my childhood and early adult life.  I was sexually abused, abandoned by my ex-husband for another woman (while I had our two babies to tend to), I had a step father who was abusive and I saw him physically hurt my mother, I felt that nobody cared for me and that I felt angry at my mom for not being able to protect me, my family back home made me feel bad whenever I couldn’t help them financially.  I was afraid sleeping in the dark without my husband with me as I always feel that somebody is going to grab.

 

What things were you struggling with before you came to the service?

I easily got angry and  felt people take advantage of me and that they just want to speak to me because they need something from me.   I have dissociated myself with long time friends and even stop talking to my mother and siblings.  I don’t trust my husband and I always feel panicking whenever he is away from me.  I had dreams about the abuse and the people who did it to me.

 

What worries did you have about starting therapy?

I was worried that I will not be understood and that nobody would care to listen to me.

 

What were the sessions like?

It was very helpful and I felt very comfortable with my therapist. She didn’t judge me.

 

What did you learn?

I’ve learned to understand my feelings and adopt the skills of managing my emotions. Most especially, I have learned to ‘find’ my happy place which really helped me a lot.

 

Do you still do things that you covered in the sessions?  Or do you not need to?

Not anymore.  My therapist has done her part, it’s up to me now to use the skills she taught me.

 

What do you think has changed for you since before seeing your therapist?

My relationship with my husband and kids have improved.  I am not as angry as I was before. I re-connected with my estranged friends.  I am in a place now where I don’t feel anger to anybody.  I also don’t have ‘bad’ dreams anymore.  A lot of people also commented that I’ve been smiling more than before.

 

What would you say to someone who was coming to the service for the first time? What would you reassure them about?

I’ve said this to my therapist – have I known I would feel this kind of happiness, peace and contentment that I feel now, I would have done the therapy  before, It was a second life for me – I felt reborn.

 

Anything else that you would like to add?

I owe my second life from my therapist who helped me to turn my life around.

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