Talking Matters Northumberland is currently undergoing a branding update. In due course, this website will be replaced by a new service page on Mental Health Matters website (

Click the links below for more information on terms relating to talking therapies:

Book on Prescription (BOP)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT)
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Individual Guided Self-help Programmes (ISH)
Stepped Care Approach


Anxiety is an emotional state which is characterised by feelings of fear, worry and apprehension. At any time, 1 in 10 people will be experiencing high levels of anxiety, affecting their mood and thinking.

Most people experience anxiety at some level within their everyday lives, such as before an examination or a job interview. Such anxiety would be considered normal and may be beneficial for increasing alertness. However, when levels of anxiety remain at an excessive level over a long period of time, this may result in a reduction of one’s ability to cope effectively on a daily basis.

There are various causes for anxiety. It may be that a person has an anxious personality, or that they have learned to worry though observing another individual, for example a close family member.

Stressful life events such as divorce or bereavement may cause anxiety. There are also situational factors which can create anxiety, for example pressure at work or relationship problems.

It may be that you are experiencing mild symptoms of anxiety which can be addressed through making changes to your lifestyle. Our health and wellbeing pages give advice on improving general wellbeing including diet and exercise. However, if you are experiencing more severe symptoms you may benefit from talking therapy or guided self-help. Our service offers psychological interventions of this nature, details of which can be found on our Self-help Programmes page.

The symptoms listed below are frequently associated with anxiety. You might find it helpful to check through this list to see if you, or someone you care for, might be experiencing similar difficulties.

Please be aware that the following does not serve as a diagnosis.

Over the last two weeks do you think you have found yourself feeling 3 or more of the following:

  • Feeling nervous or on edge
  • Being easily annoyed
  • Worrying most of the time
  • Feeling as if something awful might happen
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Problems getting to sleep or staying asleep
  • Feeling easily tired

Book on Prescription (BOP)

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends the Book on Prescription scheme to help people who are experiencing mild mental health problems including anxiety, depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A book can be used as a first step in finding out about difficulties and developing strategies to overcome them, or in addition to other therapies. The book will contain practical ideas and suggestions for life style changes and strategies to manage difficulties.

The books available on prescription have been recommended by mental health practitioners and have been found useful by patients, families, friends and carers.

Most of the books are informed by the principles and practice of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and present self-help versions of the kind of therapy that would be offered by a psychologist or counsellor, allowing people to learn about their problem in privacy, at their own pace.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Some people may need more intensive support from a therapist to help them overcome their difficulties. If this is the case, we can offer individual CBT therapy to help people explore how thoughts, feelings and behaviours may interact and affect their mood. CBT can be offered to those experiencing depression and/or anxiety disorders. This involves working together with a therapist to understand your difficulties and develop different strategies in order to cope. As part of the therapy, it can be useful to agree on tasks to complete in between meetings, so that work can continue outside of session times. This is a time limited therapy and this is usually discussed at the first meeting with a therapist.

Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT)

Self-help approaches are developing all the time, and computers are now able to provide another way to access help in the privacy of your own home. ‘Living life to the full’ is an easy to use, interactive self-help website that offers CBT to people who want to learn to cope differently with depression and/or anxiety.

You can access the programme via the internet, which means you can use the programme anywhere private where the internet is available, e.g. home, work, library.

The following outlines what the course covers:

  • Understanding why we feel the way we do
  • Practical problem solving skills
  • Using Anxiety Control Training relaxation
  • Overcoming reduced activity
  • Helpful and unhelpful behaviours
  • Using medication effectively
  • Noticing unhelpful thoughts
  • Changing unhelpful thoughts
  • Healthy living – sleep, food, diet and exercise
  • Staying well

Go to to look at the introductory module. You can also invite us to be a ‘clinical helper’ for you, so that we can monitor your progress.

You may also like to try Mood Gym which uses CBT principles. You can find it at


Depression is a common mental health problem thought to affect 1 in 5 adults in the UK at some point in their lives. It is characterised by feelings of low mood, loss of interest or pleasure, low energy, and poor concentration.

Of course it is quite normal for us all to have days when we feel down, often when we are experiencing times of stress or worry such as changes in our lives, relationship problems or stress at work. However, if it becomes difficult to manage these feelings or they persist, affecting day to day life, it may be a sign of depression.

Different treatments are recommended for different problems, so speaking to a GP or health professional may help you make informed choices about the care you would like. Talking therapies, self-help approaches, medication and exercise have all been shown to be beneficial in tackling depression.

Some things you can do to keep yourself feeling well:

  • Exercise – research shows that this can be as effective as medication in reducing the symptoms of depression.
  • Healthy eating – eating a well balanced diet can improve your mental health as well as your physical health.
  • Avoid drugs and too much alcohol – you may feel drugs or alcohol make you feel better in the short term, but in the long term they may only make things worse.
  • Talk about it – talk to friends and family. They may not know how you are feeling. They may be able to provide support and aid your recovery.

The symptoms listed below are frequently associated with depression. You might find it helpful to check through this list to see if you, or someone you care for, might be experiencing similar difficulties.

Please be aware that the following does not serve as a diagnosis.

Over the last two weeks do you think you have found yourself feeling 3 or more of the following:

  • Having little interest in doing things
  • Feeling down or depressed
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Being tearful
  • Problems concentrating
  • Feeling tired with a loss of energy
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling life is too much to bear

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is effective in treating people who have psychological difficulties as a result of traumatic experiences, such as assault, road traffic accidents, and sexual abuse. During therapy the therapist will help you to recall emotionally disturbing events for very short periods, whilst at the same time focussing attention on something different such as eye movements, hand tapping, or audio-tones. EMDR aims to lower distress by changing the brain’s way of processing disturbing memories and cope more effectively in situations that trigger anxiety. This is a time limited therapy and this is usually discussed at the first meeting with a therapist.

Individual Guided Self-help Programmes (ISH)

These programmes use books specifically written to help the reader learn new ways to overcome a mental health problem. It can be hard to put new ideas into practice at a time when you may be feeling overwhelmed by your difficulties. Therefore, we offer regular support sessions with a psychological practitioner to guide you through the programme and encourage you at times when it may be hard to keep going.

Our self-help service provides self-help programmes which have proved to be helpful for:

  • Anxiety and panic
  • Depression

These programmes are based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which aims to help you see links between how you think, how you feel and what you do, so that you can create more helpful life patterns. Sessions are time limited and this is usually discussed when meeting with a psychological practitioner for the first time.

Stepped Care Approach

Most people who seek help for psychological problems have very mild concerns and issues. These people are helped by their GP and other staff and this is considered to be Step 1 on the care pathway. The aim in Step 2 is to help people learn different ways to help themselves. The aim in Step 3 is to offer more specific guidance for more difficult problems. After you refer yourself for help to Talking Matters, a team of psychological therapists will initially recommend which level of help may be most appropriate and you will be invited to discuss this in your assessment meeting.