IAPT Service User Journey

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My service user journey - by Poppy, age 29 from Braintree*

I initially attended my GP to discuss my health when I had been feeling low for a while. I was sent for physical tests to rule out any physical health problem. The GP then identified that I was struggling with depression. I was prescribed antidepressants and referred to Mid Essex IAPT.

I attended my initial assessment with a CBT therapist. I found the session really helpful. I felt that a good rapport developed between me and my therapist and she helped me to discuss my problems and identify short term goals. She also informed me about what treatment would involve.

My first step in treatment was learning about depression. I engaged in an intervention called behavioural activation, which involves building up to do activities for fun and achievement that I had been avoiding and finding overwhelming since my depression started.

This was challenging at times but really helped to lift my mood

Unfortunately I had to end therapy early to receive support elsewhere due to a change in my symptoms. Once the situation was more stable I was referred back for more support by my GP.

I worked with a new therapist and we looked again at behavioural activation and particularly establishing a routine that involved doing one thing each day that was important, one thing that helped me feel close to others and one thing for me. My thoughts and beliefs that were at the core of my depression were also explored, which was a turning point for me. I realised that I had a strong belief that I wasnt as good as others, which made me want to avoid others at times, for fear of being judged, and made me sometimes overcompensate and try too hard. Through CBT I learned how to test out my beliefs and recognise that I am valued and good enough. This really helped me to overcome my depression.

Whilst engaged in therapy I was also referred by my therapist to the Mid Essex IAPT employment support service (now called the Support Time and Recovery Service) as I had a long term goal to return to work. I had phone sessions with my support worker, who helped me to write an updated CV and worked with me on interview skills.

I had 12 sessions in total with my new therapist. Over the course of therapy I did self-report questionnaires to measure my mood and anxiety levels and by the end of treatment I was able to see how much I had improved, which was really helpful. Ending therapy was done in a planned, gradual way, with the final few sessions spread out over time. This helped me to feel happier about ending therapy, knowing it wouldnt suddenly stop. I was also given a follow up session three months after ending therapy so there was the opportunity for my therapist to check that I was still doing well, which thankfully I was. Today I can say that I am much, much better. I can now get up and face the day and am not held back by negative thoughts about myself.

* Identifying information has been changed to protect the service users confidentiality