Frequently asked questions

Where will I be seen?
You will either be seen in your GP surgery or an available community venue of your choice.

How much does it cost?
Talking Changes is a free service.

Is Talking Changes confidential?
Yes, we keep all information confidential. The only exceptions to this are if we feel that you are at risk of harm to yourself, somebody else is in danger, or you disclose any crime unknown to the Police or child protection issues. If we believe this to be the case, we will usually discuss this with you before sharing information.

What are the benefits of the psychological therapies service?
The service provides early intervention to avoid or limit the need for medication, time off work and unemployment. The interventions offered are evidence based and in the long term more effective than Anti-depressant medication

Am I eligible?
The service is available to anyone aged 16 or over I living in County Durham or Darlington, with a common mental health problem.

How do I get help if I don’t meet the criteria?
Talk to your GP. If you are already being seen by the secondary care services, contact your Care Co-ordinator.

If you have any further questions about the Talking Changes service please contact the team using the details in the 'Contact' section of this site or give them a call on 0191 333 3300

I think I recognise some of the symptoms of low mood or anxiety –but it’s not severe. Will I be wasting your time by referring myself?
You will not be wasting our time. There is lots of evidence which indicates that early detection and prevention is vital in treating low mood and anxiety. Many people are treated in the service that are experiencing mild symptoms of anxiety and low mood –sometimes they only need a few sessions or a bit of support to help understand their problems.

If you are unsure, have a read of our sections on this website which give some examples of each problem area. You could also visit your GP to discuss any changes or difficulties that you are experiencing –they may then make a referral on your behalf. You can also give us a ring and talk things through with one of our staff –there is a duty supervisor on hand between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday (until 8pm on a Monday, Tuesday and Thursday).

I would rather meet with somebody face to face. Are all initial screening assessments carried out over the telephone?
We encourage people to use the telephone for the screening assessment appointment if possible. This offers most flexibility as it is usually very convenient for people. It also means that we are able to assess more people as there is no travelling time involved. This means people can be assessed quickly, and therefore can start treatment earlier.

However, in exceptional circumstances, we are happy to offer screening assessments on a face to face basis in your GP surgery or a local community venue. Reasons for this may be if you have hearing difficulties; you are unable to speak in a confidential setting (nowhere private); you don’t have a telephone; or find it extremely difficult to use the telephone. If this is the case, please let our admin team know at referral.

Many people feel anxious about the thought of speaking to somebody about sensitive matters over the telephone. However, most of our service users find it much less anxiety provoking than initially expected. It means that you can talk in the comfort of your normal surroundings –and involves little disruption to your day. The practitioners who you will speak to are all trained staff who conduct psychological therapies, and are not call centre workers. This may mean that you go on to have therapy with the same practitioner that conducted the screening assessment.

I work 9am-5pm, do you offer appointments outside of office hours?
We aim to be as flexible as we can in regards to appointments, so that they can fit in with other commitments, such as work or child care. We offer telephone screening appointments on these days until 8pm. Therapists also aim to offer early (from 8am) or late (until 8pm) appointments on a regular basis –either via telephone or face to face.

I work shifts, so I don’t have a regular pattern to my hours – will this be a problem?
No. Again, we aim to be as flexible as possible to fit appointments in around you. After the first appointment, you and your therapist will arrange weekly appointments together for a time that suits you both.

I have a preference to see a male/female therapist – is this possible?
Yes. If you have a preference, we will do our best to accommodate this. In most cases, this is not a problem.

I work in a different area of Durham to where I live. Can I be seen somewhere closer to work?
In most cases, we are able to accommodate this. As long as you can be seen within the County Durham and Darlington area –we should be able to arrange this. Please just let us know within your screening assessment.

I don’t want to be seen in my GP surgery –can I attend appointments in an alternative venue?
Usually this is not a problem. We offer appointments in GP surgeries and in community venues all over the County Durham area. If you have a preference please just let us know.

I’ve already worked with Talking Changes, but I’m finding myself struggling again. Do I need to go back to my GP?
No –we accept self-referrals, so you don’t need to be referred back by your GP. You can contact us directly on 0191 374 0044 (North team) or 01388 646831 (South Durham and Darlington) and discuss a re-referral.