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Call for Increased Access to Psychological Therapies Welcome

Call for Increased Access to Psychological Therapies Welcomed

The New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists (NZCCP) applauds the recommendations of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction to increase public access to psychological (also called talking therapies) and increase New Zealand’s psychology workforce.

Psychological therapies are important to help people recover from many mental health and addiction difficulties, and prevent difficulties from becoming more serious. Psychological therapies can also address the causes of difficulties rather than only looking at the symptoms, which is vital for long-term improvement in quality of life and wellbeing.

Dr Malcolm Stewart, NZCCP President, said “Despite the importance of skilled psychological therapies, access to these therapies through health services, even from DHB mental health services, is currently limited and many people who could gain major benefits cannot get therapy.” He also noted that “Many people choose to go to a psychologist in private practice, but cost stops this from being an option for everyone.”

Psychological therapies generally involve developing a clear understanding of the factors that have led to a person’s difficulties, and then using psychological techniques to build that person’s knowledge and skills to improve their life. Therapies can be offered to individuals, couples, families, or groups. In New Zealand, psychological therapies are typically evidence-informed, which means they are based on research that has shown they are effective. Contrary to how they are sometimes portrayed, psychological therapies are often brief, and focused on making rapid and meaningful change in people’s lives.

Psychological therapies are provided by many psychologists, including clinical psychologists, and by skilled people from other disciplines. Dr Stewart commented that “As clinical psychologists, NZCCP members have advanced training in psychological assessment and therapy, and are committed to helping the government, DHBs, primary health organisations, and other agencies to achieve the aspirations of the MH&A Inquiry by providing psychological assessment and therapy, and supporting other suitably skilled professionals to provide psychological therapies.”

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