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How to choose a therapist

If you’re considering therapy — whether it’s to restore a relationship, recover from trauma, adjust to a new life phase, or improve your mental health — finding the right therapist is the first hurdle to cross.

Researchers have found that the bond between you and your therapist is likely to have a big impact on your growth. That’s why it’s important to do your research, ask questions, and pay attention to your own responses in your search for the therapist that’s right for you.

Here are some tried-and-true methods for finding a therapist to help you reach your therapeutic goals:

Consult a directory

If you plan to pay for therapy through your health insurer, it's a good idea to check their recommended counsellors.

There are also several directories online that you can check yourself, such as:

On some of these directories, you can filter results by location, therapy style, mental health condition and more.

Look at charity websites

Websites such as Mind, Samaritans, Shout and Relate offer some great alternative options such as 24/7 support lines, text services and email support. A lot of trainee therapists volunteer at services like these!

Ask a trusted friend or family member

Although it wouldn't be appropriate for a therapist of your friend or family member to give you counselling, you might find that their practice has other counsellors available.

Check your local resources

If you are a student, you might find that your school/college has a counsellor on campus. If you're employed, check with your HR team to see if they have any therapists available through an employee assistance programme.

Online help

There are also several online therapy providers, such as BetterHelp, and the NHS online service IAPT. Check whether you are eligible by visiting the NHS website here.

Remember that you might not find the right therapist the first time!

No matter how many professional accreditations your therapist has, your own feelings of trust and comfort should be your top priority. Will therapy be uncomfortable from time to time? Possibly. After all, you’ll likely be discussing difficult, personal topics. But if you feel uncomfortable with your therapist for any other reason, it’s all right to look for someone else.

You don’t need a reason to switch therapists. It’s enough that you don’t feel comfortable.

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