How to choose a psychotherapist

Safe and not judged. Understood. Heard. The right therapist will help you to feel like this so that you can find better ways to cope with your problems and improve your emotional wellbeing.

Opening up to someone about intimate details of your life can feel daunting. It’s not always easy – but it can be life-changing. To go through this process, it’s essential that you find a therapist you can trust.

Research shows that one of the most important aspects of psychotherapy is the relationship you form with your therapist. A strong relationship will help you to overcome the challenges you face in the present and to heal from painful events in the past.

Sound good? Here’s some guidance on how to go about finding the right therapist for you.

Find a Therapist


Step one: Search our find a therapist directory

Search for a UKCP psychotherapist or psychotherapeutic counsellor and feel confident the therapists you find are fully qualified, committed to good practice, ethical conduct, and continuous learning and development. Our register is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, adding another layer of assurance.

There are almost 8,000 psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors on Find A Therapist and you can search by location, whether you’d like to meet in person or online, and the issue you want to work on.

Things to think about when you’re using Find A Therapist include:

  • Would you like to see a therapist who specialises in the issue you need help with?
  • Do you want to see someone in your local area, near work or elsewhere?
  • Would you like to meet online, in-person or on the phone?
  • Would you prefer to see a man or woman?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the way the therapist describes themselves and their work and how they might be able to help?
  • Are you interested in a specific type of therapy?
  • Are you looking for therapy as an individual, or in a couple, a group, or family?
  • Are you looking for therapy for yourself as an adult, or on behalf of a child or young person?


Step two: Contact a therapist

When you’ve found a potential therapist, send them an email or give them a call. You could give a brief overview of your problem to find out whether the therapist is able to help you. Most therapists will be able to help with most issues, and will not be shocked or judge you. Ask the person you’re contacting if they have appointments at a time and place that suits you and how much they charge. 

It can be useful to give the therapist a call. The conversation will give you a sense of what they are like and whether you would feel comfortable working with them. 

You might not be able to reach the therapist straight away as they often use an answering machine when they are in client sessions. If you leave a message, they should return your call. 


Step three: Try a first session

The first session is a chance to see how you feel being with a therapist and get a sense of how they work and if you might work well together.

They will probably ask you to talk more about what brings you to therapy and might have an assessment form which they fill in on your behalf. This helps assess if they are the right person to help you. They might ask about:

  • the history of the issue you want to work on
  • your childhood
  • relationships with family, friends and partners
  • what helps you cope
  • if you’ve had therapy before and what was useful about it if you did.

Remember, it’s your session and you are in control. You can ask questions to help you decide whether you want to work with the person. These might include:

  • What type of therapy do you do?
  • What experience and training have you had in working with the issue I am dealing with?
  • What can I expect to happen in our sessions?
  • How long do you think we’d work together?
  • What happens if I miss a session or am on holiday for one?
  • How do you think you could help me?
  • How will I know when my therapy is finished?


Step four: Assess how you feel

At the end of the first session, you might want to go away and think about whether you would like to work with the therapist. Alternatively, you could agree what happens next at the end of the session.

Things to think about include:

  • Do you feel at ease with the therapist?
  • Do you think you could build a trusting relationship with them?
  • Would you feel comfortable telling them about intimate details of your life?
  • Do you feel safe with them?
  • Do you like their manner towards you?
  • Did they listen to you?

It’s completely okay to meet with a therapist and ask them a lot of questions and then decide not to work with them.

Many people don’t find the right therapist first time. If this happens to you, it is not your fault. You have already decided you would benefit from therapy, so it is worth trying again and booking an initial appointment with another therapist.

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