What to expect

The drop-down menus below will hopefully provide you with a better understanding of what to expect from our service.

How to register

The first thing is to register (self-refer) with our service. The easiest way to do this is to register online.

Once we receive your referral, we can look to get you your first appointment booked.

How our service works

Once registered, your referral will be reviewed by our assessment team. The team is made up of fully-qualified, trained and experienced clinicians who will review the best and most timely treatment option for you.

It is important to be aware that we are a psychological therapy service and not a traditional counselling service. We offer many evidenced-based and NICE recommended treatment options.

It is likely that in the first instance you may be offered one of our specially developed courses. You may also be offered an online package whilst being supported by one of our clinicians.

Depending on what treatment option has been offered, we will contact you to book you into a course, online programme or an appointment, and send you information about the treatment you will receive.

Very often, the treatment options above are enough for people to get their lives back on track and feeling better. In some instances you may receive more specific, intensive forms of therapy, which might include one-to-one work with a therapist.

Getting the most out of therapy

Due to the nature of our focussed, short-term work with you, it might be that your therapist asks you to do some work in-between sessions. This could include trying out a new technique, reading some information, practising a breathing exercise or completing a thought or activity diary. In our experience the patients who actively engage in these tasks, often see the best results.

To help get the most out of your sessions, we hope you can build a positive relationship with both therapist and Outlook South West. To help make this happen, both sides have responsibilities.

Find out more about getting the best from our service.

We sincerely hope you have a positive experience with us but in the event that you do not, we want to know. Our aim would be to put things right and learn from situations and try and improve for the future. We also like to hear about positive experiences, so don’t be afraid to tell us about how your therapy has been helpful as well.

If you are unhappy with any aspect of our services, please see the complaints procedure leaflet in the additional resources below.


At every appointment you will be asked to complete a questionnaire which measures low mood, anxiety and the impact of difficulties in your life. This helps both you and your therapist to monitor progress.

We also use patient experience questionnaires to help us understand how you feel about the services you have received. We usually ask you to complete these at your first and final appointments.

What if I'm having thoughts of hurting myself or others?

When struggling, it is not uncommon for people to have difficult thoughts or feel hopeless. However, this is not the same as actually planning or taking steps to hurt yourself. We are not an emergency service so it is very important that you seek help from the right sources if you are having thoughts of hurting yourself.

If you feel that you are in crisis or need more urgent support, call the 24/7 NHS mental health response line on 0800 038 5300 for support and advice.

Managing your personal information

We provide psychological therapies as part of a nationwide programme called IAPT. In order to ensure we are doing the best job possible, we need to collect information about patient treatment.

For information on why and how we do this, visit our privacy notice for patients page.

Which problems are we unable to treat within this service?

We are able to offer a service to the large majority of people experiencing mental health distress. Broadly speaking, we can help with people who are going through problems of anxiety, stress and depression. However, some mental health problems fall outside of our NHS commissioned service.

Bereavement counselling

People who are experiencing grief through the loss of someone close to them.

Substance dependence

People who are experiencing distress because they are currently addicted to drugs and alcohol

Bipolar disorder and psychoses

These are often severe mental health problems requiring help from the secondary care mental health services.

Behaviour posing significant risk to individuals

We provide relatively short-term psychological therapy. We are unable to provide the more intensive support required to monitor and manage serious levels of risk. We will refer you to the appropriate service if we believe your problems fall under this category.

Significant longstanding interpersonal difficulties (often called personality disorders)

These problems can often involve a history of frequent self-harm and stormy or chaotic relationships. These problems often require more specialist and longer-term psychological support and treatment.

Problems involving strongly held beliefs

People with these problems know that the beliefs are mostly untrue, but nevertheless, they find it difficult to shake them off or challenge them. These problems can include, eating disorders, OCD and severe enduring depression that involve extreme beliefs. We would be happy to discuss your situation if you are unsure whether your problems fall into this category.