How to Find the Right Therapist?

by | Apr 25, 2023

What do the letters behind therapists’ names mean? How many sessions will I need? What kind of therapy is right for me?  

Finding the right therapist is paramount to the success of your therapy, one might argue. Nobody wants to start and stop and start again in this already uncomfortable, to say the least, endeavour. Whilst it is not difficult to find a therapist these days, thanks to Google & Co, it remains challenging to decipher the many letters behind their names and to decide which one to go for – apart from liking their picture and location perhaps.

Here are a few points to consider when looking for a therapist privately:

a) Theoretical Orientation
b) Qualification
c) Frequency, Regularity, and Time-frame
d) Financial Sustainability


Theoretical Orientation

It can be confusing and frustrating to wade through this jungle. There is no right or wrong therapeutic approach. It is more like tackling issues from different angles sometimes also in different ways.

For example, I work with an integrative relational approach. In short, it takes into account unconscious psychodynamics whilst also drawing on cognitive behavioural methods. You can read more about what this means here.

You might also find that many therapists have undertaken more than one training.


In the UK, counselling and psychotherapy are not protected professions. This means anybody can register themselves as a therapist. Scary.

To ensure your therapist is properly qualified check that they are accredited (not just a registered member) with one of the top UK accrediting bodies such as UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy), BACP (Member of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy), or BPC (British Psychoanalytic Council).

An accreditation with either of the above organisations means that your therapist has undertaken many hours of rigorous supervised training as well as undergone their own therapy (to know what’s yours, and what’s theirs, and how this might effect each other).

Not all therapists accredited with BPS (British Psychological Society) would have had this training requirement thus may nor may not have undergone any therapy themselves.

Frequency, Regularity & Length

High frequency does not equal getting there faster. There are differing theoretical principles underpinning the variety in frequency and recommended treatment length.

For example, a Psychoanalytic psychotherapist would see patients 3-5 times a week, a Psychodynamic or Integrative Relational psychotherapist might see patients once or twice a week, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) treatment may or may not be regular and limited in time, and DIT (Dynamic Integrative Therapy) is usually 16 weekly sessions.

Most relational therapists work with regular session as this tends to best support unconscious emotional processing. Volatility in regularity and frequency can seem not important but often turn out to be stifling the progress.

Irrespective of the theoretical orientation is the length of therapy. Some therapists may suggest a minimum time commitment to assess the effectiveness of the work. Most open-ended contracts endings are negotiated in a conversation between you and your therapist, whereas time-limited agreements are defined in length from the onset.

Financial Sustainability

Making therapy sustainable over the entire treatment period is arguably the most important point. Therefore, it is always best to discuss this right at the beginning. Therapists, like other professionals, tend to raise their fees occasionally and this is something you will want to understand and take into account. Equally, sometimes life changes may occur that make a renegotiation of a contract inevitable.

If money is of the essence, some therapists offer lower-cost arrangements and there are several low-cost services in London who offer subsidised therapy.

Shortlisting from Online Directories

Let’s face it, wading throught the jungle of online therapy directories can be tiresome and the temptation to choose quickly based on location is high. However, you are entrusting your therapist to help you with what’s most pressing for you so it might be worth taking some time for the selection process.

Firstly, to get a sense of how a therapist works and discuss some of the above, make a shortlist and arrange for a brief initial phone or video call. Most therapists will offer this. Sometimes just hearing them talk can give you an indication of whether you feel you’ll be able to work with them.

As mentioned above, always cross-reference with the accrediting bodies and maybe check out their private websites (like this one). There are more directories available, Google can help you find them, these are my recommendations:

“Courage is the Commitment to Beginn without the Guarantee of Success.”– Johann Wolfang von Goethe