• Denisa White


Updated: May 20, 2021

1. First, ask yourself a question: “Do I want to see a private therapist or NHS one?”

There are of course advantages and disadvantages to both. NHS counselling might be free of charge, however their waiting list can be few months long. Once you get to see your NHS therapist, your sessions will be limited and you are pretty much stuck with the therapist you were given-whether you like him/her or not. There is no choice.

If you decide to go and see a private counsellor, of course there is payment involved. Expect to pay anything from £40-£100 per session. Each therapist sets their own fees, depending on many factors they are taking into consideration. However, many private therapists offer either free introductory session or free pre-therapy phone conversation. You can take advantage of this and speak to few therapists before you settle on the right one for you. The amount of sessions you’ll have is entirely up to you as there is normally no limit.

2. Where do I start to look for a counsellor?

I would always recommend to go to websites that only hold approved therapists. This means that before any therapist can be listen on any given site, they have to provide proof of their qualification as well as their insurance provider. Choosing a therapist from such website can offer you a peace of mind knowing that your future therapist is well qualified and experienced practitioner.

Such websites would be:

* Counselling directories

* BACP directories

* Psychology Today

3. Therapist’s gender - Do you mind if it is a woman or a man that you see?

It might seem such a trivial thing to consider, however I would urge you not to dismiss this step altogether. If the therapeutic issue is quite sensitive, ask yourself a question. “Would I feel comfortable enough talking to the opposite gender about this or would it make me uncomfortable and therefore hinder the therapeutic process?”

It is very important that the person you choose as your counsellor is someone you can trust, be honest and opened with. Ultimately, you will be entering a working relationship with someone. This relationship might last several months, so it’s important that it feels right. Your comfort and ease is important for building therapeutic alliance which is crucial if you want the therapy to work for you efficiently.

4. Cost of therapy. This can be the biggest deciding factor when choosing your therapist. As I mentioned above, the cost of sessions can vary. In general male therapists charge more than females, but this is not a rule of thumb. Counselling is a commitment. Once you decide to start therapy, ideally you’ll go and see your therapist weekly. It really would be a shame to have gaps in therapy because of financial reasons. Therapy requires a flow, hence weekly sessions. Some modalities invite clients to come twice or three times a week, however majority of modalities offer weekly sessions.

5. Location

Again, this can be a big decisive factor for some of you. You might either want the convenience of travelling to your counsellor that is local to you or you might choose someone who doesn’t live in the same area as you do. This is entirely your preference. When I contract with my clients, I always include my protocol of what happens if we meet when out and about. Not all counsellors do this, so maybe it would be worth asking. You might not want to be acknowledged by your counsellor when out with your friends, but you might feel ok if you are by yourself. It is important to talk about these things right at the beginning of your therapeutic relationship, so there are no awkward moments later on.

6. Counselling modality

“How do I know which counselling modality is the right one for me?” I hear you asking. Well, there is no straight answer to that question. Unless you are a trainee counsellor and you require your own therapist to be the same modality as you are currently studying, than it doesn’t really matter. Of course each therapists believes that his/her own modality is the best one, hence why they are offering it and working to that particular model. My advice would be to check the therapist’s website for any clues of how they work and see whether you feel drawn to that way of working. Another alternative would be asking them once you go and see them for your initial assessment.

For me, the decider was the therapist’s profile picture. I felt that I had to like them in order to be able to work with them. Of course we are all individuals and different things matter to different people, so be guided by your heart. If you like what you see and if you get a good feeling about someone than it is a high possibility that they might be the right therapist for you.

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