Online talking therapy service trial launched in Norfolk

An online therapy pilot has been launched by the Norfolk Wellbeing Service.

An online therapy pilot has been launched by the Norfolk Wellbeing Service. - Credit: ©Si Barber - all rights reserve

A new online service has been launched in Norfolk to help people going through mild and moderate mental health challenges.

Officials from Norfolk's Wellbeing Service have teamed up with PsychologyOnline to offer talking therapies to patients from their home, using the internet.

A pilot has been launched by the service, which is run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, to deliver cognitive behavioural therapy sessions to patients via an online chat service.

The mental health trust is trialling PsychologyOnline for 200 patients who are suffering the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Patrick Wymbs, clinical service lead for central Norfolk's Wellbeing Service, said the therapy would allow people to access treatment from their home using the internet, at a time that suits them.

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'We are providing a range of options from group courses to one-to-one therapy. However, many people in rural parts of Norfolk find it difficult to get to appointments. The internet is an integral part of people's lives and we believe that offering online therapy is an important part of the future. Including PsychologyOnline in our portfolio of services will offer clients greater choice and flexibility in accessing support.'

Psychotherapist Sarah Bateup, the clinical lead at the Cambridge-based PsychologyOnline, added that depression and anxiety were treatable with CBT, often in less than six sessions of therapy.

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'When people are upset or under stress it affects the way they view the world. CBT practitioners work alongside the person to help them to see for themselves the link between negative thoughts and mood. This empowers people to gain control over their negative emotions and provides mechanisms for coping.'

'Our brains are used to learning through reading and writing, which is why using instant messaging for CBT is so effective. It creates an opportunity for the person to reflect on situations as they are written down and this helps get to the root of the problem more quickly,' she said.

The Wellbeing Service, also known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, is free and open to anyone aged 16 years and over in Norfolk and Waveney.

A public consultation on the Wellbeing Service contract, which is up for renewal in 2015, came to an end on January 31. The service treated 15,000 people between April 2012 and June 2013.

People can be referred by their GP or can self-refer online by visiting or telephoning 0300 123 1503.

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