In psychological therapy, how we project our services matters. So it was fascinating to examine the different names used to brand IAPT and private services in our recently-published study. I hope our work will lead to further research into what service users think about the names, and how access can be improved.

We found that NHS IAPT services were significantly more likely to contain positive words in their names than private services were. And they were more likely to have a theme of togetherness and collaboration. Meanwhile, private services were more likely to include a psychological therapy like CBT in their name and have a theme of efficacy. 

The most common keywords in IAPT services were ‘talking’ and ‘thinking’. They used a variety of euphemisms such as ‘talking’ for psychological therapy. But interestingly, we found no emphasis on ‘doing’ in the names of either the IAPT or private services. This is despite behavioural interventions being a very commonly used part of therapy.

And it’s also worth noting that the brand names in IAPT are overwhelmingly positive, and convey the hope of a good outcome. They don’t include the experience of difficult emotions, such as sadness and fear during therapy. 

We found just one private service that evoked the history of CBT – named after the psychologist Vic Meyer. Perhaps we will have some Clark and Layard centres in the years to come!