How to find a therapist that’s right for you

Looking for therapy can be daunting. Use these tips to help you find a therapist that suits your needs.

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Therapy can be a life-changing experience for people who are looking to improve their wellbeing. However, knowing where to start can be complicated and anxiety-inducing.

Here, we’ll answer key questions for people who want to find therapy near them. We’ll also offer tips and guidance for finding the best therapist or counsellor for your individual needs.

How to find therapy or counselling

There are lots of avenues you can take when searching for therapy. Here’s an explainer on the different options available to you for both free and paid therapy, plus things to consider whichever route you take.

Private therapy services

Many private providers of therapy are available today. Online directories such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) can help you find an accredited counsellor or therapist near you. Priory also offers fast access to a therapist for young people and adults, providing the support you need via accredited therapists.

Check with the provider or therapist, but in many cases, you won’t need a referral from your GP to get private therapy. Private therapy comes with a cost per session, but can often be accessed quickly, meaning limited or no waiting lists.

Fast access to a therapist

Speak to a mental health expert about the right treatment pathway for you, with fast access to a therapist at Priory. Take the first step by calling our friendly team today.

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Therapy via the NHS

The NHS provides a free mental health therapy service across the UK, either online, over the phone or in person. You can speak to your GP first if you’d like them to refer you into the service, but you can also refer yourself. If you refer yourself into the service, you’ll get a call from someone at the NHS for an assessment. This usually takes place within a few weeks of you contacting the service.

 Find your local NHS therapy service here.

Therapy vs counselling: what’s the difference?

Mental health practitioners may use terms like therapy and counselling interchangeably. While they’re both designed to help someone overcome mental health challenges in the here and now, there are key differences between therapy and counselling.


  • Tends to be longer-term, addressing a recurring problem 
  • Will be used to treat a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety
  • May delve deeper into the past in order to find a root cause of mental illness


  • Generally a shorter-term treatment, providing support for a current issue or problem, like grief and bereavement
  • Tends to focus on the issues in the present 

Charities and other free resources

There are a number of charities across the UK that offer mental health services, or can point you in the direction of services near you:

  • Hub of Hope: created by the charity, Chasing the Stigma, the Hub of Hope is a free online directory listing more than 14,000 mental health services and groups across the UK
  • Mind: the mental health charity, Mind, have over 100 centres across England and Wales delivering mental health services
  • CALM: if you’re looking for condition-specific support, CALM’s service directory signposts support for everything from alcohol and drugs, bereavement, and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression

Work or university

Your workplace may offer an employee assistance programme (EAP), which might include free counselling sessions. You should be able to access these services without speaking to your manager or HR team.

For students, your university will have mental health services you can access for free, including free counselling sessions. Again, you should be able to access these services in confidence without having to speak to anyone outside of those services.

Tips for finding a therapist

Navigating the world of therapy might feel overwhelming initially, but with the right tools and resources, finding a suitable therapist in the UK can be more straightforward than you'd think. Here are some practical tips to guide you.

  • Have a think about your needs: before you take any further steps, understand what you're looking for. Do you prefer a male or female therapist? Would you like them to have expertise in a particular area like trauma, anxiety or family counselling? What are you hoping to get out of therapy? These are all questions to ask yourself before you start looking for a therapist
  • Ask for recommendations: therapy is a personal journey, but friends, family, or your GP might have suggestions based on their experiences or professional networks
  • Check qualifications and experience: always ensure that the therapist or counsellor you're considering is registered with a professional body in the UK and has relevant experience for your needs
  • Initial consultation: most therapists offer an initial session or consultation, allowing you to gauge if they’re a good fit for you. This is a valuable opportunity to ask questions, understand their approach and get a feel for what therapy is like
  • Consider costs: private therapists will have fee structures. Ensure the costs align with your budget, and remember that investing in your mental wellbeing is invaluable
  • Trust your gut: while qualifications and recommendations are vital, the rapport you share with your therapist is just as crucial. It’s important that you feel comfortable, understood and supported

With these steps in mind, the process of finding the right therapist or counsellor in the UK can be both empowering and effective.

What does 'accredited' mean?

Terms like 'accredited' often crop up in relation to therapists and counsellors. But what does it actually mean, and why is it significant?

Accreditation is like a seal of approval. It indicates that a therapist has met a set of standards set by a professional organisation, ensuring their competence and professionalism in the field. This benchmark of quality also suggests a therapist has ethical standards and is professionally trained.

While the term 'accredited' might sound formal, it serves as a reassuring sign of a therapist's commitment to their profession and to delivering the best possible care to the people they help. If you ever find yourself unsure about any credentials or terms when you’re looking for a therapist, don't hesitate to ask. Like many medical fields, therapy has its own set of terms and jargon. Good therapists will always have time to explain how everything works – giving you peace of mind so you can focus on improving your mental state.

Contact us to make an enquiry or for more information

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