How to find a therapist – and know they’re the right one for you

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  • Finding a therapist you click with — and can afford — can be a daunting task. Here’s our guide to getting started with the right person for you

    If you’re searching the internet for how to find a therapist, know this: therapy is one of the most powerful ways to invest in yourself, whether you’re dealing with mental health issues, whether you’re looking for help navigating in your relationships or simply want to understand each other better.

    There are all kinds of reasons to start therapy, but with so many different types available, it can be hard to know where to start.

    You might want to talk to someone virtually (you can read our guide to online therapy, here), but if you’re more interested in traditional talk therapy, keep reading to find out how to get started.

    Don’t miss our guides to exercise and mental health, chronic stress, and mental health apps, while you’re here.

    How to Find a Therapist: Your Guide

    Can you get free therapy?

    Before looking for a private therapist, you may want to explore whether you can get free sessions through the NHS. It’s as simple as making an appointment and talking to your GP about any symptoms you’ve been experiencing. They can refer you to an NHS Psychological Therapies Service (IAPT), or you can refer yourself here.

    However, keep in mind that you will probably have to join a waiting list before you can start. You’ll also be offered a limited number of sessions, usually between six and 12, so if you’re looking for something longer term, private might be a better option. If the cost of therapy is a concern, we have listed some organizations below that offer therapy at a discount.

    You may also want to check if your workplace has programs in place to provide free or discounted counseling. If you have health insurance, this may also cover the cost of a certain number of sessions. It’s worth checking with your HR manager to see what might be available to you.

    How to find an accredited private therapist

    There are a number of professional bodies that allow you to search for a licensed therapist near you. What follows list by mental health charity Mind is a good starting point:

    You’ll find that some of these sites allow you to filter your search by specific mental health issues or topics, from addiction to stress or anxiety, to low-grade depression.

    When reading therapist biographies, you might come across terms for different therapy styles or schools of thought, such as “person-centered” or “humanistic” therapy. The BACP has a brilliant A to Z on the different types of therapy that you can use as a reference.

    “I strongly suggest that if you are interested in a specific type of therapy that you have come across in your research, do a little more research and look for therapists who practice that modality,” therapist Anthony Davis says in a video for the BACP. .

    How much should the therapy cost?

    According to the Bark Services Market, the average cost per therapy session (which usually lasts 50 minutes) is £45 and the maximum is £75. However, you are likely to see some therapists charging more than this (up to £150 per session in some cases).

    Sessions tend to take place weekly, so you might be looking at spending around £200 per month in total. There is no doubt that private therapy is a big financial commitment, especially since psychotherapy tends to take years, not months, to achieve the best results.

    If you are on a lower income or on benefits, there are a number of organizations across the UK that offer therapy at lower rates. The free psychotherapy network has a brilliant list of places offering therapy at a discount, like the Arbor Association or the Analytical Psychology Society which has psychotherapists across the UK. The list also details options for starting therapy with a trainee, which can cost as little as £5 per session.

    Mental health charities can also offer support. For example, Anxiety UK has a pool of 400 therapists across the UK who charge fees on a sliding scale, from £15 to £50 per session, depending on what you earn. The charity also has a fund to help people who cannot afford the reduced fares. You can refer via the Anxiety UK website and the charity will help you with the next steps.

    How to know you’ve found the right person

    It can be a good idea to meet with several different therapists before deciding which one to choose, advises Honey Langcaster-James, a licensed psychologist and director of services at On Set Welfare, a company specializing in working with celebrities and those in the public eye.

    “Different therapists will have different therapeutic approaches and ways of working with their clients,” says Langcaster-James.

    “They will also bring different life experiences and, of course, will also have different personalities and personal characteristics,” she shares. Trick : it can be helpful to try more than one therapist, both to see which type of therapy works best for you, but also to see which therapist you think will be able to help you.

    There are also some important warning signs to watch out for. “You may find that some therapists aren’t trained to consider your culture, background, or trauma,” says Stephen Buckley, chief information officer at Mind. “These situations can make therapy a useless experience and sometimes even worsen our mental health.”

    It’s worth talking to therapists who specialize in the issues you’re dealing with, but the type of relationship you have with someone can be just as important. “It often comes down to a good ‘therapeutic alliance’ or the kind of relationship you can create with your therapist, and that can be a very personal thing,” says Langcaster-James. “But it’s also worth considering that you may not always experience the most effective therapy with a therapist who you really like as a person or who is very similar to you.”

    She continues, “In fact, a therapist who is challenging or you don’t quite feel comfortable with can sometimes be what you need to ‘break through’ because you can explore your discomfort or perhaps be a characteristic that triggers you in the context of therapy. Ultimately, however, the most important thing is to find a therapist who can create a safe working relationship for you to learn about yourself, grow, and heal.

    What will therapy look like?

    Good question. It’s normal to feel nervous, anxious or even guilty about starting therapy, says the expert. It takes courage to decide to face your deepest thoughts and feelings — especially with someone you’ve never met before — so congratulations on going this far. And remember that there are many ways to help mental health if therapy isn’t for you.

    “Mental health support and treatment can take many forms, including talking therapies, medications, complementary and alternative therapies, peer support and self-care techniques,” says Buckley. . “Different options or combinations of options work for different people at different times.”

    In the end, any investment you make in your mental well-being, big or small, will be worth it.


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