There are lots of types of psychological therapy (also called "psychotherapy" or "talking therapy"). But the therapy that has been proved to be highly effective in dealing with suspicious thoughts is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (or CBT for short).
CBT is a collaborative therapy. The therapist and client will work together to:
How many sessions of CBT does a person need? Well, that's something that needs to be discussed with the therapist but most people have around 10 to 20 weekly sessions.
CBT is mainly provided by clinical psychologists, though more and more psychiatrists, counselling psychologists, counsellors, and nurses are becoming trained in this approach.
Clinical psychologists have studied psychology at university and then completed a three-year postgraduate degree. Most also have a doctoral degree in clinical psychology (meaning that they use the word "Doctor" before their name). Clinical psychologists apply psychological theories and research to problems and don't prescribe medication.
Psychiatrists have trained as medical doctors and then gone on to specialise in the care of people with mental health problems. Their first line of treatment is usually medication, but some psychiatrists are also trained in psychological therapies such as CBT.
Defining the term counsellor is trickier. It's a title used by people with widely differing types and amounts of training. Chartered counselling psychologists, for example, have studied for several years, obtained a doctoral degree, and are often very similar to clinical psychologists. Some counsellors have extensive training but not in CBT. Others have only attended short courses. When you're looking for a counsellor, check that they've been properly trained, that they're a specialist in CBT, and that they belong to an appropriate professional body. A number of organisations keep registers of CBT therapists (for example, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies), and you can find details of these in the list of useful links.
If you want to explore the options for getting CBT, it's usually best to talk first to your family doctor (called a GP or General Practitioner in the UK). Your doctor has a good general knowledge of common illnesses and will be able to advise you on access to local resources and refer to a therapist if appropriate. It's important to be referred to a therapist who has been properly trained in the use of CBT: ask your doctor if you're not sure.
In the UK most CBT therapists work in the National Health. Alternatively you may want to consider a private therapist. Sometimes private therapy can be arranged by your GP. If not, you may need to find a therapist on your own. As ever, make sure your therapist is properly qualified! (Again, see the list of useful links for help with this.)
The PICuP Clinic
The PICuP Clinic is a specialist psychological therapies service providing CBT for paranoia and other distressing unusual experiences, such as hearing voices. It is headed by international clinical and academic experts, and shows excellent outcomes in terms of reduction in distressing symptoms and increase in quality of life. 91% of people who have had CBT with PICuP report that they are satisfied with the therapy they received.
PICuP takes referrals from GPs and community mental health teams throughout London and the South East(*), and the clinic also accepts self-funded referrals.
PICuP Clinic, PO79
Clinical Treatment Centre
London SE5 8AZ
Tel: 0203 228 3524
Fax: 0203 228 5278
Web site: www.national.slam.nhs.uk/services/adult-services/picup/
* This is subject to the referring team/GP having a "contract" with the clinic, and referrals may need to go through a funding panel for approval.