Expert agrees with Kate’s comments about ‘talking therapy’

Prince William and Kate Middleton open hospital in Liverpool

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Kate, Princess of Waless, was right to say that “talking therapies” don’t work for some people, a mental health expert says. The Princess of Wales made the statement while meeting the volunteers at the Open Door charity in Liverpool, which offers a programme of creative therapies to support young adults.

Dr Rachel Megahy, a senior clinical psychologist, said: “Everyone is talking a lot more about mental health,” and went on to note that “talking therapies don’t work for some people”.

And she acknowledged that there had often been “negative connotations” around the subject.

Her remarks come after her brother-in-law Prince Harry alleged in his book that Prince William feared he had been “brainwashed” by therapy.

The Duke of Sussex told a US chat show this week that the moment he started doing therapy, it was like he and his family “started speaking a different language”.

He claimed: “It just became very, very different. They couldn’t understand me.”

Responding to Kate’s remarks, clinical psychologist Dr Megahy told “It’s true that therapy doesn’t work for everyone or offer a guaranteed improvement – in the same way that medications don’t have 100 percent success rates and will have varying degrees of effectiveness depending on individual factors.

“Similarly, there are several factors that will impact the efficacy of any psychological intervention.

“Any intervention will rely not just on the skills of the therapist and the treatment model, but also the engagement of the client.

“You wouldn’t expect to fix your frozen shoulder by attending a physiotherapy appointment every two weeks without doing the exercises between appointments and making the recommended changes, and simply attending therapy appointments won’t necessarily produce significant change without being motivated to do the work between sessions.

“As therapists we want to help our clients find ways to improve their wellbeing and functioning, but they need to be active and collaborative in this process.”


Dr Megahy, who runs Prism Psychology in Galashiels, Scotland, added: “To be able to engage in therapy, clients need to feel safe, listened to and at ease being honest so finding a therapist who is a good fit is as important as finding one with the right academic qualifications.

“Of course, if someone is very closed off to the idea of therapy then it is likely they won’t be open to engaging or benefitting from the process.

“I think Kate is right when she links this to stigma and the negative associations people still have about mental health difficulties and seeking treatment for this, and hopefully this will highlight the need for increased provision of access to psychological therapies.”

“Just because therapy doesn’t work for someone once, that doesn’t mean it won’t in the future.

“Perhaps the client wasn’t ready to make changes, didn’t feel they had a good fit with the therapist or were not able to be truthful about the underlying issues driving the problem.”

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Dr Megahy added: “Motivation and desire to change fluctuates and just because someone didn’t succeed the first time doesn’t mean things can’t be different in the future.

“Think about stopping smoking – most people don’t succeed on their first attempt and may have to try different treatment options before finding one that works.

“The final thing to remember is that therapy isn’t necessarily a quick fix. It’s hard work and can mean sometimes people feel worse before they feel better, especially if they are addressing painful memories or uncovering feelings and beliefs that have been suppressed or avoided.”

And Dr Megahy says it is essential to ensure that any therapist is qualified to be treating people and is registered with either the Health and Care Professions Council, or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, or accrediting bodies for individual therapy types.


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