5 simple steps to finding your ideal therapist

How do you choose a therapist when there are so many available? It can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a simple step-by-step process you can follow to find the ideal therapist for you.


Finding the ideal therapist

1. Think about your needs

Before starting your search, ask yourself these questions. It’s a good idea to jot down your responses as you’ll need them later.

  • Why am I seeking therapy? (e.g. "I feel anxious all the time and this is affecting my relationship with my partner.")
  • What are my goals for therapy? (e.g. "I want to understand why I feel so anxious and how I can get my anxiety under control.")
  • What is my ideal therapist like? (e.g. "My ideal therapist is an older woman who understands my culture.")
  • What are my practical needs? (e.g. “I need to see someone on either Tuesday or Wednesday evenings, who is based near my work.”)

Bear in mind that if you are too specific with your requirements, it might take longer to find the right person.

2. Make a list of potential therapists

The next step is to make a list of qualified therapists that match your criteria. Never see an unqualified therapist as this can be very dangerous for your mental health. All therapists on Counselling Directory are qualified members of a recognised professional body.

Use the advanced search filters on Counselling Directory to bring up therapists that meet your criteria. Each therapist has a profile with information about how they work. Use the save button for profiles that look interesting.

From your search results, aim to find four or five therapists that look promising. This is your shortlist.

3. Get in touch

Put together a short email based on your answers from step one. Only include what you’re comfortable sharing at this stage. For example:


I’m looking for therapy because I feel anxious all the time. This is starting to affect my relationship with my partner. I want to understand why I feel so anxious and how I can get my anxiety under control.

Do you have any spaces for face-to-face therapy in Putney? I'm free on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings, between 5pm and 9pm.


Send this email to each therapist on your shortlist. Go into your bookmarks and you’ll see there’s an email link next to each therapist. 

4. Introductory phone calls

Therapists should respond to your enquiry quickly. If they have a suitable space, they will usually offer a free introductory phone call. This is a great opportunity to get a sense of whether this is someone you would be happy to see.

Before the call, take a moment to note down any questions you have for the therapist. You might ask about the type of therapy they offer, or whether they have experience with clients like you.

There is no such thing as a stupid question. A good therapist will answer your questions in simple terms, without using jargon. At the end of the call, you might want to go ahead and book a session, take some time to think it over, or simply not go any further. Trust your instincts on this. If you decide to go ahead with therapy, the next step is to arrange your first session.

5. Your first session

Going to your first therapy session can be nerve-wracking. Remember your therapist will have plenty of experience meeting clients for the first time. They will do their best to make you comfortable. 

In the first session, a therapist will typically ask you questions about what’s brought you to see them. They will also cover practical issues like how to pay your fees. The first session is also a chance for you to ask any questions that weren’t covered in the introductory call.

Pay close attention to how your therapist makes you feel. It’s important to be comfortable with them. If not, it will be difficult to open up about whatever is troubling you. 

If you feel good about this therapist, this could be a sign to try more sessions with them and see how you get on. That being said, there’s no obligation to carry on with therapy beyond your first session.

On reflection, do you feel this isn't the right person for you? Even if you can’t pinpoint why, it’s better to find someone else. This can be frustrating, but it will be worth it in the end.

When we feel upset or down, it’s tempting to rush to find someone to help us. Take your time to work through this step-by-step process. This way, you are more likely to find the right therapist for you.

Pointers when looking for a therapist

Here are a few other points you might consider as you look for a therapist.

Face-to-face or online therapy

Online therapy via Zoom or a similar platform is undoubtedly convenient. It also gives you access to a wider pool of therapists across the UK. Think about who will be home during your online sessions. It can be difficult to discuss your relationship with your partner if they are sitting in the next room.

Whilst online therapy can work well, face-to-face therapy has many benefits. It can be easier to build a relationship with your therapist when you are in the same room. For many people, face-to-face therapy is a richer experience than communicating via a screen. Think about what’s best for you given your needs and circumstances.

Using an online therapy platform

Therapy platforms like BetterHelp aim to make life easier by finding a therapist for you. They usually recommend someone based on your answers to a questionnaire.

Bear in mind that getting therapy this way is a different experience compared to working directly with a therapist that you find through Counselling Directory.

Here are a few questions to consider if you’re thinking about using an online platform.

  • Can I arrange face-to-face therapy via this platform or is it online-only?
  • Do I need to sign up for a rolling subscription and is it easy to cancel?
  • Do I have any control over the therapist I'm matched with?
  • Are the sessions on this platform the standard 50 minutes?
  • Is this platform based outside the UK and, if so, how is my data protected?

Whatever path you choose, I hope this article has spurred you on to start your search for a therapist. If it has, I invite you to visit my Counselling Directory profile. If I meet your criteria (see step one), I’d love to hear from you.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, E8
Written by Reuben Heller, Dip. Integrative Counselling, MBACP
London, E8

Reuben is an integrative therapist offering a safe, non-judgmental space to work through life's challenges. He'll help you navigate anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and more, taking an approach tailored to you. Sessions in Hackney or online. Book an introductory call to learn more.

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