by Harley Therapy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is used to treat and manage psychological and emotional issues. While most psychotherapists engage with patients by talking, there are also other forms of psychotherapy such as drama, art and music.

Watch the one minute guide to psychotherapy here:

What do Psychotherapists do?

Psychotherapists offer a private, confidential environment in order for you to express your feelings and gain a deeper insight into your thoughts, behaviour and actions, to enable you to find healthier ways of managing the issues you are facing and lead a more fulfiling life.

Talking to a psychotherapist is different to talking to a friend, as psychotherapists aim to give impartial insight. Psychotherapists will not tell you what to do, but will instead offer guidance to help you to understand the best way to improve your emotional wellbeing.

There are psychotherapists who are trained to work not only with specific issues but with a variety of people, such as individuals, children, couples or families. To find a psychotherapist near you, you can use the UK's leading booking platform here.

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What types of psychotherapy are there?

Each type of psychotherapy draws on thousands of research studies, observations and theories. There are many different types of psychotherapy available, however, some of the key approaches to psychotherapy include:

  • Psychodynamic psychotherapists help you to understand the "why" behind your current emotions and actions, so that you can link your past experience with your present experiences and ultimately live more freely in the here and now. You can learn about yourself by exploring your feelings and interactions within the therapeutic relationship.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapists believe your thoughts patterns affect your behaviours and emotions. They focus on finding strategies to manage your behaviours by changing your thinking.
  • Humanistic therapists emphasise the capacity in each person to develop to their maximum potential. The emphasis is on a person’s individual nature and behaviours and their ability to use their personal instincts to grow, heal and find fulfilment. There are many types of humanistic psychotherapy, including Gestalt, Client-centred and Existential therapy.
  • Integrative psychotherapists may have studied various models of therapy in their training, often in the same amount of time as a psychotherapist who is trained in a specialised field of psychotherapy, such as humanistic or psychodynamic psychotherapy. While this means that they may have studied each approach for less time than on a specialised course, many psychotherapists feel that this allows them to adapt their approach and style to the needs of each patient.
  • Family-oriented systems therapists focus on helping you to resolve any problems in the context of your family unit. Each family member works together with the rest of the family to better understand what is happening within the family group dynamic and how their individual actions affect each other and the family unit as a whole.
  • Child psychotherapists work with individuals under 18 and often include different ways of communicating, such as play therapy, to work with children of younger ages.

Wondering how to find the right psychotherapist for you? Read our top tips on finding the best therapist here.

What is the difference between counsellors and psychotherapists?

While there are many similarities between counsellors and psychotherapists, the main difference is that psychotherapists tend to undertake work that is more focused on how the past has affected your present, as well as helping you to manage your current problems. Typically psychotherapists will have undertaken more intensive training than counsellors.

How long does psychotherapy take?

Psychotherapy can be short, medium or long term. While psychotherapy tends to be longer-term than counselling, there are a number of psychotherapists who offer short term work.

Ultimately the number of sessions you have will depend on you, your psychotherapist and the type of therapy you choose. It is important to note that psychotherapy is not a quick fix. However, it is evidenced that the sooner someone enters therapy to work on the issues they are experiencing, the more likely they are to make faster improvements to their mental health.

Common areas that people ask for psychotherapists help with

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sexual issues
  • Family issues
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Eating disorders; Anorexia, Bulimia
  • Grief
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Body Dysmorphia
  • School performance issues
  • Infidelity
  • Schizophrenia and psychosis
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Abuse
  • Addiction
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Personality disorders
  • Developmental disorders
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Identity issues
  • Gender issues
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Confidence issues
  • Guilt issues
  • Jealousy
  • Self-esteem
  • Relationship issues
  • Paraphilias
  • Sleep concerns
  • Trauma
  • Work issues

How much is private psychotherapy?

Psychotherapists in the private practice set their own fees. This may depend on the area that they are working in (eg. the rent they pay for their room), their professional experience and a host of other factors. Some psychotherapists offer reduced rates for a certain amount of their clients based on their income levels.

To search for a psychotherapist at a cost that suits you, you can use the price filters on the Harley Therapy search directory to find the best option for you. Psychotherapists listed on Harley Therapy set their own fees, and some of the psychotherapists listed offer sessions for under £40.

Should I see a psychotherapist in private practice?

There are lots of counsellors and psychotherapists in private practice. Private psychotherapists might be a good option for you if you want to start psychotherapy now, rather than joining the NHS waiting list (if you are based in the UK), however, there are other options for receiving certain types of counselling free in the UK listed below. You can also now refer yourself for talking therapies in the UK using the NHS’s IAPT to access support using the (Improving Access to Psychological Therapy) initiative.

If you are looking for psychotherapy without a fixed term or end date, or outside of an NHS environment, seeing a private psychotherapist might be right for you. It is worth considering whether you can wait for treatment for the length of time you are required to from any free services since studies have found that people who seek help for their mental health issues sooner tend to see their symptoms improve faster. For example, anxiety is easier to manage through talking therapy than anxiety disorder, which can develop over time. If you are experiencing a crisis now, you can call the Samaritans free on 116 123.

If you are a UK resident, there may be mental health charities in your area you can go to for free advice and information about mental health services. For example, the charity MIND offers therapeutic services in some areas.

Some workplaces offer counselling services or employee assistance schemes to help their employees access psychological help. To find out whether your organisation offers such services, you may want to confidentially contact your HR department.

Universities and some schools and colleges in the UK also offer counselling services, although these may be online-based. Check your institution’s help centre for information on the services they provide for students.

Medical insurance sometimes entitles users to private counselling sessions with an accredited provider. If you would like to know whether this is an option for you and the process you would need to follow to start counselling, you will need to check your insurance policy details. It is worth checking whether using your medical insurance to receive free or subsidised counselling sessions will affect your insurance premiums in the long term before you follow this route.

Psychotherapy and counselling training centres and clinics often offer low cost or sliding session fees for therapy provided by psychotherapists in training, who are supervised by experienced professional therapists, such as WPF Therapy in London. Searching for ‘reduced fee therapy from psychotherapists in training’ might help you find some clinics or organisations operating on this basis near you.

If you would like to see a fully-trained and insured psychotherapist in private practice as soon as tomorrow, there are hundreds of psychotherapists listed on this platform. Read reviews and search by cost and location to find the best psychotherapist for you and book securely online here.

A qualified, professional therapist will work with you to examine your thoughts and behaviours and improve how you feel. You will build a relationship based on trust, giving you the confidence to share your feelings and emotions with them. Your counsellor will listen to all that you have to share with empathy and openness.

An experienced therapist or counsellor like those listed on the Harley Therapy platform can help you to manage your symptoms and find your own way forward.

Filter our qualified, professional and vetted therapists by cost, location, availability and approach so you can find and book the best therapist or counsellor for you here.

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