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Service users and trauma survivors often want more opportunities to talk to someone and to be listened to. Often, people will seek a talking therapy which requires them to undergo an assessment. There is some evidence to suggest that these assessments can be difficult for service users and survivors. The APTT research programme aims to gain a better understanding of people's experiences of being assessed for talking therapies, and from this, to generate good practice guidelines.

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We would like to hear from you

Have you experience of undergoing a talking therapy assessment? Do you conduct talking therapy assessments? Or do you have expertise in talking therapy assessments? If so, we would love to hear from you.

We will be drafting good practice guidelines for conducting talking therapy assessments. The guidelines will be based on literature and qualitative work, and finalised through two surveys with stakeholders including service users, assessors, PWPs, clinicians and managers.

  • Survey one will take place in September 2019.

  • Survey two will take place in October 2019.

Participants will receive a small reimbursement for their time.

If you'd like to get involved, please email Angela Sweeney.

Literature reviews (to 2017)

In the first study, we conducted a systematic review of the qualitative literature on adult's experiences of talking therapy assessments. We also described and reviewed trauma-informed approaches, first focussing on trauma-informed approaches in the UK, and then exploring the role of relationships within trauma-informed approaches . We have also co-written an editorial seeking to clarify misunderstandings around trauma-informed approaches and a further editorial on trauma-informed approaches and grassroots support for sexual violence survivors.

Qualitative investigation (2017-2019)

The second study, nearing completion, is a qualitative exploration of the enactment and experience of assessments for talking therapies from clinician and service user perspectives, informed by the findings from the first study.

APTT advisory groups

APTT is guided by a Clinician and a Service User Advisory Group who both meet regularly to inform design, data collection, data interpretation, reporting and dissemination. Advisory Group members have wide-ranging expertise, including in survivor research, health services research, delivering and receiving IAPT, delivering and receiving psychotherapy, and local services. Dr Sweeney's research profile page contains more information about APTT Advisory Groups.


The research programme is funded by a five year part-time NIHR Postdoctoral Research Fellowship awarded to Dr Angela Sweeney.

APTT publications
  • Sweeney A, Clement S, Gribble K, Jackson E, Carr S, Catty J & Gillard S (2019) A systematic review of qualitative studies of adults' experiences of being assessed for psychological therapies. Health Expectations

  • Sweeney A, and Taggart D (2018) Editorial: (Mis)understanding trauma-informed approaches. Journal of Mental Health 27(5): 383-387.

  • Sweeney A, Filson B, Kennedy A, Collinson L & Gillard S (2018) A paradigm shift: relationships in trauma-informed mental health services . BJPsych Advances , 24(5): 319-333.

  • Sweeney A, Clement S, Filson B & Kennedy A (2016) Trauma-informed mental healthcare in the UK: what is it and how can we further its development? Mental Health Review Journal 21(3).

More information
If you would like further information on any aspect of the study, please contact Dr Angela Sweeney.


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