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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Types of therapy and treatments

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Acuphase is a type of depot antipsychotic.


Antidepressants are used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, obsessional problems and sometimes pain. See our factsheet on antidepressants for further information.
Antipsychotics are used for the treatment of psychosis. They are sometimes referred to as Neuroleptics. Some of the earlier drugs in this group were haloperidol and chlorpromazine. In recent years, a new group of antipsychotics has been developed which have fewer side-effects. These are called Atypical Antipsychotics and include clozapine. olanzapine, risperidone and quetiapine.
Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy which uses the creation of art or craft, to help release and explore the precise and personal images and metaphors which lie at the foundation of the personality, so that they can be explored and discussed within a therapeutic relationship.
See the British Association of Art Therapists for further information:
Atypical Antipsychotics are a newer group of antipsychotics which have fewer side-effects than the older antipsychotics.



Behaviour therapy is a form of psychotherapy which seeks to improve the way a person feels by changing what they do. It is commonly used to overcome phobias.
Benzodiazepines are drugs that relax people and make them feel calm. Unfortunately, the effects are only short-lived and people can become addicted to them, which can make them more anxious. They can be effective in very short courses.



Carbamazepine is a drug sometimes used as an alternative to Lithium in stopping the symptoms of manic depression and is particularly effective in people with rapid swings between mania and depression. See our leaflet on Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder) for further information.
Care programme approach is a system for looking after people with mental health problems, and of ensuring that they receive the help and support they need from mental health services, and that this care is well organised.
Crisis intervention team A team of mental health professionals whose job is to work with people with mental illness who are going through a crisis. The aim of the team is to bring about a rapid resolution of the problem and prevent admission to hospital.
Cognitive analytical therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves a therapist and a client working together, by looking at what has hindered changes in the past, in order to understand better how to move forward in the present. Questions like, "Why do I always end up feeling like this?" become more answerable.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a talking treatment that emphasises the important role of thinking in how we feel and what we do. The treatment involves identifying how negative thoughts affect us and then looks at ways of tackling or challenging those thoughts. See our factsheet on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for further information.
Control and restraint is a method used to safely restrain a person who is very unwell and poses a serious risk to the health and safety of themselves or others.
Counselling is a type of psychotherapy which helps people address and resolve their problems and work through their feelings.
CT (Computerised Tomography) scan is a computerised type of x-ray that gives very detailed images of internal organs such as the brain. The MRI scan provides even better images.



Depot medication is a special way of taking medicine as an injection, which releases the drug slowly over several weeks. For further information see our leaflet on depot medication



ECT (Electro-Convulsive Therapy) is a method of treatment for mental distress/illness. It is mainly used for people with a diagnosis of severe depression who do not appear to be getting better or are not responding to medication. ECT involves passing a current of electricity through the head, which causes a convulsion (fit) in the brain. As medication is given to relax the muscles, there is very little movement of the body.



Lithium is a simple chemical, like the salt we use on our food. It is a treatment that has been in use since 1949, mainly for the treatment of manic depression (bipolar disorder).



Mental Health Act (1983) is the legislation that governs the compulsory admission and treatment of people with mental health problems. The Act was passed in 1983 and is currently under review. Please note that this act only applies to England and Wales. Other parts of the UK have their own legislation. The majority of patients will be admitted to hospital as informal patients, which means that they have voluntarily agreed to go. However, compulsory admission may be necessary when someone has such severe problems that they are a risk to their own health or the health or safety of other people, and they refuse to go into hospital. Admission can be arranged therefore under one of the following sections of the 1983 Mental Health Act and the person is detained ‘on section’ (or ‘sectioned’).
Section 2. Two doctors and an Approved Social Worker may use this section of the Mental Health Act to commit someone to hospital for up to 28 days if they believe them to be in need of assessment because they are suffering from mental illness and are a danger to themselves or others.
Section 3. Two doctors and an Approved Social Worker may use this section of the Mental Health Act to commit someone to hospital for up to six months if they believe them to be suffering from mental illness and to be a danger to themselves or others and that the illness requires compulsory treatment.
Section 4. This is an emergency section of the Mental Health Act that is used when only one doctor is available. This criteria are the same as for section 2 but it only allows someone to be admitted for 72 hours.
Mood-stabilisers are drugs, such as Lithium, which can be very effective for most people with a diagnosis of severe manic depression. Carbamazepine is sometimes used as an alternative to Lithium.
MRI scan is a computerised system which can produce very detailed images of the internal organs of the body. MRI scans of the brain are very useful in helping to diagnose physical brain problems.



Neuroleptics are antipsychotic drugs which get rid of, or reduce, the intensity of psychotic experiences such as delusions and hallucinations. They also have a calming effect.



Occupational therapy uses purposeful activity and meaningful occupation to help people with mental health problems and play a key role in helping people overcome problems and gain confidence in themselves (useful link).



Psychotherapy Types of treatment which involve talking and listening. For more information see our factsheet on psychotherapy



Sleeping tablets Are to help people sleep. These can be effective in the short term but people can become dependent on them so their long term use should be avoided. See our factsheet on tranquillisers and sleeping tablets and our leaflet ‘Sleeping well’ for further information.
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