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Finding the Right Therapist: A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing the Best Therapist for You

Updated: Jun 4, 2023

Whether it’s your first-time exploring therapy or you've been on this journey before, finding the right therapist can be a daunting task. Especially with the rise of online therapy, options are seemingly endless, making it all feel a bit overwhelming. But choosing a therapist who is the right fit for you is so important. In fact, research shows that the relationship you build with your therapist is the most important factor when it comes to successful therapy. Choosing to find a private therapist means you are investing in yourself and your wellbeing, and you deserve to work with someone who can best help you achieve your goals. In this blog post, I will guide you through a step-by-step process to help you make sure you are making the right choice.

Step 1: Understand Your Needs

Consider the following:

  • What areas would you like to work on in therapy?

  • Are you looking for a therapist who specialises in a specific issue?

  • Do you want to have sessions near your home, workplace, or elsewhere?

  • Would you prefer online, in-person, or phone sessions?

  • Do you have a preference for a particular type of therapy?

  • If you've had therapy before, reflect on what worked or didn't work for you.

Step 2: Begin the Search

Start your search by exploring reputable directories such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and Counselling Directory. These directories provide comprehensive lists of registered therapists in the UK, who have all met a certain standard of training and qualification. You can filter your search based on location, budget, issues you want to address, and therapeutic approach.

You could also consider asking trusted friends, family, or colleagues who have had positive experiences with therapy if they have recommendations. Keep in mind however, that what works for someone else may not necessarily work for you; everyone's needs and preferences differ.

Step 3: Trust Your Gut

Once you’ve searched based on your needs, click on any profiles you feel drawn to. As you look through the profiles, pay attention to practical details, but also to your emotional reaction. Do you feel relaxed, curious, or open? Are they ‘speaking your language’? On the other hand, if you feel tense, unsure, or confused, take note of those feelings. Choose a few therapists that you like the sound of the most.

Step 4: Schedule Initial Calls

Most therapists offer free initial calls to help you decide if you would like to work with them. During these calls, you can share a little about yourself and what you’d like to work on. It's an opportunity for you to ask questions, get a sense of who they are, and for them to assess if they can meet your needs.

It's natural to feel anxious about speaking to strangers on the phone. Just remember that therapists are literally trained to help you feel at ease, and we're used to people feeling nervous during these initial chats. Having a few questions ready can help you to feel more relaxed and prepared for the conversations. This will also allow you to compare their answers and make a well-informed decision.

Here are a few questions you may want to consider asking:

  • What is your therapeutic approach and how would you help me?

  • Have you worked with clients similar to me or with issues similar to mine?

  • What is your cancellation policy?

  • How often do you recommend I have sessions, and for how long?

  • Do you have availability at a time and place that works for me?

Take notes during the calls to help you remember important details and pay attention to how each therapist makes you feel. Remember it’s perfectly OK to talk to a therapist, ask lots of questions, and then decide not to work with them.

Step 5: Book a Session

After the initial calls, take time to reflect and consider the following:

  • Did you feel comfortable talking to them?

  • Could you imagine opening up to them about difficult, or personal topics?

  • Did you feel reassured by what they shared?

  • Did you like how they spoke to you and explained things?

  • Did you feel heard and understood?

  • Do they meet the needs you identified in the first step?

Based on these reflections, choose the therapist who you feel the most comfortable with, and the most confident in their ability to help you. Then go ahead and schedule your first session with them!

The first few sessions are a continued chance for both you and the therapist to see if it's the right match, and if you feel comfortable working together. So keep in mind that even once you’ve made this initial choice, it's completely OK to change your mind at any stage, and you can (and should!) talk about this with your therapist.

Embarking on the journey of therapy, and finding the right therapist can be daunting, but it is a journey absolutely worth taking. Follow these steps and trust your instincts, and you'll soon find a therapist who is just right for you.

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