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Almost half of NHS Talking Therapy Patients don’t complete the full treatment


  • 44% of patients don’t complete NHS Talking Therapies treatment. 
  • 62% of under 18s over don’t complete treatment. 
  • 62% of people 90 and over don’t complete treatment. 
  • Females are more likely to complete treatment than males. 
  • Jade Proudman, from Savage Cabbage, shares her inspirational story and advice. 


A new study has revealed almost half of people taking part in NHS Talking Therapies don’t complete the full treatment. 

Talking therapies are psychological treatments for mental health and things like stress, anxiety and depression. 

Involving a trained therapist, they can take place one-on-one, in a group, online, over the phone, with family, or with a partner. The aim is for the therapist to help the patient understand and cope with any problems they’re facing. 

The average number of sessions of treatment is 8.1. 

However, research by Savage Cabbage has revealed, in the year from April 2022 to March 2023, 1.76 million referrals were made to NHS Talking therapies. In the same year, 1.2 million referrals ended after having started treatment. Of those, 672,193 finished, meaning 44% didn’t complete the full treatment. 

When it comes to age groups, the NHS Talking Therapies for anxiety and depression annual report revealed those under 18, along with those over 90, were the least likely to complete treatment.  

Age Group  % of referrals who didn’t complete treatment 
Under 18  62 
18 to 25  46 
26 to 64  43 
65 to 74  45 
75 to 89  53 
90 and over  62 


Regarding gender, females were more likely to finish treatment than males. 

Gender  % of referrals who didn’t complete treatment 
Female  43 
Male  47 


Jade Proudman, from Savage Cabbage, started counselling when she was 30 years old but couldn’t complete the full course as she felt overwhelmed. 

“I remember walking into my first appointment, opening up about what had happened, and just crumbling under the pressure. It was like prying open pandoras box. It was just too much to face, I wasn’t ready,” she said. 

“When my next appointment came around, I thought of every excuse under the sun to push it back. Again, and again, and again, I made up excuses until the NHS had no choice but to discharge me. I felt like a failure. Help was there for the taking, but I couldn’t take it, I just wasn’t ready. 

“About 7 years later I decided to try again, and despite feeling overwhelmed at first, I pushed through the pain barrier. I felt fear, but this time, instead of running, I faced up to it, and I’m so glad I did. As the sessions went on, I shared more and more, and it felt like waves of relief washing over me. 

“I still struggle from time-to-time now, but that’s life, the counselling and talking therapy have given me the tools I need to handle my problems in my stride. Plus, I’m no longer afraid to ask for help, I know help is out there and my friends and family want to support me. 

“The shame I previously felt from running away years earlier disappeared too. I just wasn’t ready to talk, and that was ok, it’s still ok! Not everybody is ready on day 1 to speak, and sometimes it takes a wobble to realise that now is not the time to confront this – but it doesn’t mean you never will, just take a deep breath and re-adjust. Try again or wait a little while and try down the line. 

“Asking for help is not a weakness, stopping after one appointment is not a weakness, trying again is not a weakness, just keep going and find what works for you – whether it’s now, or in 7 years’ time like me.” 

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Notes to editors

Notes to editors: 

Savage Cabbage analysed data from the NHS Talking Therapies for anxiety and depression annual report to reveal the figures. 

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