How Do I Find the Right Therapist?

by Andrea M. Darcy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

So, if you're thinking about starting counselling, how can you find the right therapist?

It’s important to find a therapist that has the right training and qualifications. But it is as important that a therapist is someone you feel you can get along with, and grow to trust. That's why, when you book a therapist with, we'll offer you another session with an alternative therapist free of charge if you decide that you and the first therapist you choose are not the right match.

You may have tried typing your location into a search engine and found yourself faced with hundreds of listings, which can feel overwhelming.

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Questions to ask when trying to find a therapist

1. Do they have the right training and qualifications?

We vet all of the therapists on our platform to make sure they have proper training, whether they are psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors or cognitive behaviour therapists. You can of course also look up the institution a therapist trained at to ensure it is reputable. You are free to ask about a therapist's qualifications and training at your first session, if you choose to do so.

Counsellors, psychotherapists and counselling psychologists in the UK will have spent a minimum of three years training and at least a year of being a trainee, although many will have trained for longer. A good therapist is registered with an appropriate organisation, which ensures that they uphold ethical standards. The acronyms included in the ‘registrations’ section of therapists' profiles on this website indicate what organisation they are registered with.

2. Is their therapeutic approach a good match for your issues?

Some people research the different therapeutic approaches first, then choose a therapist by the type of therapy they offer. Others prefer to choose a therapist based on how they describe their working style in their profile information and see how the approach she or he offers can help. If you are using our platform to find a therapist, we make it even easier. We have a built-in algorithm that matches you to a therapist who specialises in working with your exact issues and the approach you prefer. Remember, too, that you can ask a therapist in your first session how he or she feels they can help you.

3. Is he or she registered?

A counsellor or psychotherapist in the UK does not have to be registered to work as a therapist. But as a client, it acts as a layer of protection for you if a therapist is registered with a regulatory board. This assures that they uphold an ethical practice and keep updated with new movements in the talk therapy world. At Harley Therapy we only work with registered and reputable therapists.

4. Do they have enough experience?

Experience is important. That said, a newer therapist who you get along with and who has a passion for working with your issues might be a better fit than a therapist with years' of experience who you are not comfortable with. So look for evidence the therapist has experience with your issues and then decide for yourself if you feel that their style of working suits you. To search by specific issues, you can use our search page here.

5. Do they have a supervisor?

All UK registered therapists are required to work with a supervisor to ensure they are giving their clients the best possible service. Supervision is important in ensuring that therapists keep their clients’ needs in mind and adhere to ethical standards and boundaries. But in the UK not all therapists attend or have attended therapy themselves. So if this is important to you, feel free to ask the therapist about their own experience with talk therapy.

6. Have they attended therapy themself?

Most psychotherapy and counselling certifications in the UK require that students have been in therapy themselves. But some therapists, such as counselling psychologists, take an academic route where attending therapy can be an option. If you would prefer to work with someone who knows how it feels to be on both sides of the therapeutic relationship, this is something worth asking about. To find out more about the different types of therapist, see our short guide here.

7. Do you feel like you could eventually relax around him or her?

Expecting to instantly like and trust your therapist may be unrealistic because, as with any relationship, trust needs to be built over time. However, some important questions you might want to ask yourself are:

  • Do I feel listened to?
  • Do they seem authentic?
  • Do I feel that I could grow to trust them, even if it may take some time?

By asking practical questions and listening to your instincts, consider trying at least a few sessions so that both you and your therapist have time to get to know each other. If you feel after this that your therapist isn’t right, you can be honest that the match just isn’t the right fit for you. Your therapists may then be able to suggest an alternative approach or therapist for you. If you book counselling on our platform, we will offer you a session with an alternative therapist free of charge if you feel that your first therapist isn’t the right match for you.

8. Does he or she offer a type of therapy session that works best for you?

It’s no use working with a therapist who only offers face to face sessions if you know you travel all the time. If your therapist doesn’t mention Skype therapy or telephone therapy, feel free to ask them if it’s possible. Many therapists, including the therapists offering counselling on this site, now offer blended services to suit people who are not able to access therapy in person.

9. Are you comfortable in the environment the therapist creates?

A therapy room should be clean, comfortable, and private. Even if you are doing sessions over the internet, your therapist should be working from a quiet, clutter-free environment that helps you feel relaxed.

If you’re ready to transform your life with the help of face-to-face, phone or online therapy, you can find your best therapist match here.

Any other questions? You can get in touch with our team. Whenever you're ready, we're here to help you find the right therapist for you.

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