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Recoveries following psychological therapy courses reach record levels

The number of people who end a course of psychological therapy for anxiety or depression in recovery exceeded 50% - the government-set target – for the first time last year, new figures have revealed.

In all, 50.8% of people who completed a course of psychological therapy recovered in 2017-18, up from 49.3% in 2016-17 and 46.3% in 2015-16, according to figures published in the Psychological Therapies: Annual Report on the use of IAPT services by NHS Digital.

Additionally, 66.4% of referrals finishing a course of treatment showed reliable improvement in their condition.

In the report, recovery is defined as a patient who had severe enough symptoms to be regarded as a clinical case at the start of their treatment, but not by the end of it.

Overall, there were 1.44 million referrals to talking therapies in 2017-18. Of these, 1.01 million began a course of treatment, with 555,000 finishing treatment.

The figures also show that people completing a course of treatment received on average 6.8 sessions. Those referrals that moved to recovery attended 7.5 sessions on average.

In addition, waiting time targets were met for IAPT once again. The number of people seen within six weeks for their first course of treatment also reached its highest level. In 2017-18, 89.1% were seen within six weeks, up from 87.5% in 2016-17.

The percentage of people seen within 18 weeks also increased, from 98.2% in 2016-17 to 98.8% in 2017-18.

The national target for IAPT programmes is that for new referrals, 75% enter treatment within six weeks and 95% within 18 weeks.