Adult Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme

The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme began in 2008 and has transformed treatment of adult anxiety disorders and depression in England. Over 900,000 people now access IAPT services each year, and the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health committed to expanding services further, alongside improving quality.

IAPT services provide evidence based treatments for people with anxiety and depression (implementing NICE guidelines). Details of local IAPT services are available on NHS Choices.

IAPT services are characterized by three things:

  1. Evidenced based psychological therapies: with the therapy delivered by fully trained and accredited practitioners, matched to the mental health problem and its intensity and duration designed to optimize outcomes. From April 2018 all clinical commissioning groups are required to offer IAPT services integrated with physical healthcare pathways. The IAPT Pathway for People with Long-term Physical Health Conditions and Medically Unexplained Symptoms guidance is intended to help with implementation and sets out the ideal pathway for IAPT services.
  2. Routine outcome monitoring: so that the person having therapy and the clinician offering it have up-to-date information on an individual’s progress. This supports the development of a positive and shared approach to the goals of therapy and as this data is anonymized and published this promotes transparency in service performance encouraging improvement.
  3. Regular and outcomes focused supervision so practitioners are supported to continuously improve and deliver high quality care.

The priorities for service development are:

  • Expanding services so that at least 1.5m adults access care each year by 2020/21. This means that IAPT services nationally will move from seeing around 15% of all people with anxiety and depression each year to 25%, and all areas will have more IAPT services.
  • Focusing on people with long term conditions. Two thirds of people with a common mental health problem also have a long term physical health problem, greatly increasing the cost of their care by an average of 45% more than those without a mental health problem. By integrating IAPT services with physical health services the NHS can provide better support to this group of people and achieve better outcomes.
  • Supporting people to find or stay in work. Good work contributes to good mental health, and IAPT services can better contribute to improved employment outcomes.
  • Improving quality and people’s experience of services. Improving the numbers of people who recover, reducing geographic variation between services, and reducing inequalities in access and outcomes for particular population groups are all important aspects of the development of IAPT services.

The previous IAPT website is no longer updated – if you require any information or resources from this website, you can access an archived version on the National Archives website.


New search for digital therapies for IAPT

Date: August 2017

We are working with NICE to seek high quality digitally enabled therapies for IAPT. As part of this we are looking for eligible IAPT services to take part in a free testing period. The deadline for expressions of interest has now passed and eligible services will be contacted in due course.

Find out more >

Blog – bringing in the service perspective

Date: December 2016

Ursula James became the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme manager in June and she explains what a great opportunity it has been to look at what NHSE England does with a ‘service hat’ on after moving from a clinical role.

Read the blog >