Delivery of psychological therapies and interventions: national specification

Closed 17 Mar 2023

Opened 14 Dec 2022

Feedback updated 2 Oct 2023

We asked

You to provide feedback on the draft Specification to help us to make improvements to it.

You said

There was a high level of support for the Specification. You asked for the outcomes to be clear, concise, appropriately described and defined, specific, measurable, and easily understood.

We did

We have worked to make the language easier to understand and presented the outcomes separately for service users and for those who deliver psychological therapies. This ensured that expectations were set out clearly to allow service users to understand what to expect and the workforce to know how to deliver against the Specification.  

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


We want to hear your views on the draft specification for psychological therapies and interventions.

A 'specification' is a document which sets out the standards that someone should expect when accessing or delivering psychological therapies or interventions. These standards are quite specific to psychological therapies and interventions. They are based on evidence about what should happen. 

Read the consultation paper and national specification

Read the easy read consultation paper and national specification

Background to this consultation

Currently, there is no national specification for the delivery of psychological therapies and interventions in Scotland. People with lived experience of accessing psychological therapies and interventions and people who work and volunteer in services, have identified this as a barrier in the delivery of quality care and support. The development of this specification aims to address this gap.

The Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan set out a commitment for the Scottish Government to develop quality standards across Adult Mental Health Services. Psychological therapies and interventions do not just sit within secondary mental health services as it is delivered in a broad range of settings such as physical health, digital, justice, prison, education and social care settings for a wide range of needs.

A Psychological Therapies Waiting Time Standard has been in place since 2014 and this has resulted in knowledge about issues in the delivery of psychological therapies and interventions, the Waiting Times Standard does not provide details on how equitable psychological care should be delivered.

It was therefore agreed that there was a clear need to develop national expectations for how psychological therapies and interventions should be delivered equitably in Scotland. The available evidence merits this national guidance being a specification rather than a standard. This also brings it in line with the Scottish Government Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and neurodevelopmental specifications.

We have asked a series of questions, and your answers to these will help us refine the final specification and develop how we will measure if the specification is being met.

What are psychological therapies and interventions?

Psychological therapies and interventions are:

  • evidence-based approaches that can improve your health by helping you make changes to your thinking, behaviour, and relationships to reduce distress, treat mental health difficulties, help manage emotions and improve wellbeing
  • delivered in a broad range of health, social care, and third sector settings in Scotland; across the age range and for a wide range of need
  • evidence based techniques used to promote good psychological health, prevent psychological ill health, and provide mental health interventions

Psychological care refers to all psychological therapies, assessments and interventions delivered through self-help, by individuals or specific psychological teams or services. This care can be delivered in person, in groups and remotely and / or digitally.

We want to make sure that there is a well-functioning psychological care system, which helps you to receive the right information, support, intervention or service appropriate for your needs.

You should be provided with care as quickly as possible if you need it, and with the fewest steps possible. The psychological care you receive will have your needs, and the evidence base at the centre of all decision making. This is to help you feel informed and have choice in your care and support.

We know that currently not everyone has the same experiences or outcomes when they engage with individuals, teams or services when receiving psychological care.

Mental health and wellbeing support

We want to hear about people’s experiences of health and care and mental health and wellbeing, and any support they have received. However, we know that sometimes it can be difficult to talk or write about these experiences, whether they are your own or other people’s.

You can respond to any questions in the consultation that you want to. There is no need to respond to them all.

If you are affected by any of the issues covered in this document and need support, help is available.

We have included links to some of those sources of support below.


  • Health and Social Care
  • Main hub