How to find the right therapeutic counsellor in the UK

Finding the right therapeutic counsellor is a crucial step in the process of seeking mental health support.


Once you start looking it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with what is available. The first part of this article is looking at how you might narrow down the search. Once you've narrowed down your search, it's important to verify the credentials of your chosen counsellor. Even when utilising reputable online directories such as Counselling Directory, where counsellors go through a verification process, it's beneficial to know what to look for and how to verify the credentials of a UK counsellor.

Narrowing down your search

Clarify your goals

Clearly define what you hope to achieve through counselling. What are the specific issues you want to address, such as; anxiety, depression, bereavement, relationship challenges, disordered eating, or personal growth (to name a few)? Understand if you're looking for short-term problem-solving or long-term personal growth.

Seek recommendations

Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or healthcare professionals. Personal referrals can be valuable.

Preferred approach and techniques

Research different therapeutic approaches (e.g. person-centered, CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy, psychodynamic, existential, Gestalt) and identify which resonates with you. Consider if you prefer a focus on emotions, a structured approach, or a combination of both.

You should be able to find this information on the counsellor's website or online directory profile. Make sure their methods align with your preferences and comfort level.

Would you like online or in-person counselling?

The choice between online and in-person counselling depends on your personal preferences, comfort level with technology, and specific needs. It's crucial to discuss these considerations with potential therapists and determine which mode of counselling aligns best with your goals and circumstances.

Many therapists now offer both online and in-person options, providing clients with the flexibility to choose the format that suits them best. Obviously, if you are looking for in-person only that will narrow your location search considerably.

Consider specialisations

Look for counsellors who specialise in the specific issues you want to address, whether it's anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship issues, or other concerns.

Initial consultation

Many therapists offer a free or reduced-cost initial consultation. Use this time to discuss your concerns, ask questions about their approach, and assess if you feel comfortable with them.

Consider compatibility

Personal fit is crucial. Consider factors such as gender, age, cultural background, and communication style. You should feel a sense of trust and comfort with your counsellor.

Discuss logistics

Clarify practical details such as fees, session duration, cancellation policies, and the frequency of sessions.

Trust your instincts

Pay attention to your gut feelings during and after the initial consultation. If you feel a connection and a sense of trust, that's a positive sign.

Check credentials

Once you have narrowed down your search, it is wise to check the credentials of your prospective counsellor. In the UK, there are various ways available:

Review professional memberships

Check if the therapist/counsellor is a member of professional organisations such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), or other relevant bodies. Membership often indicates that the therapist adheres to a code of ethics and professional standards. Reach out to the relevant professional organisations to confirm the therapist's membership status and if any complaints have been filed against them.

Check qualifications

Confirm that the therapist holds relevant academic qualifications in counselling or psychotherapy from reputable institutions. This should be available on the counsellor’s website, or you can ask for details about their education and training.

Check online directories (such as Counselling Directory)

Many therapists are listed on online directories provided by professional organisations. You can use these directories to verify their credentials.

Visit their website

Explore the therapist's official website for information about their qualifications, experience, and any affiliations with professional bodies. Look for a clear indication of their adherence to ethical standards.

Verify insurance coverage

Check if the therapist has professional liability insurance. While not mandatory, it can be an additional indicator of professionalism.

Remember that finding the right counsellor may take some time, and it's okay to try a few before settling on the one who feels like the best fit for your needs. Trust is crucial in the therapeutic relationship, so take the time to find someone with whom you feel comfortable and supported.

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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Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14
Written by Karen Baker, MBACP | Disordered Eating, Bereavement and Loss Counselling
Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14

Written by Karen Baker, MBACP | Disordered Eating, Bereavement and Loss Counselling

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