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How to find a counsellor or coach

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

As counsellors and life coaches ourselves, we often see/ hear people asking how they should best find such a practitioner.

As this is a really important start to your journey of self-discovery, we thought it time for us to share our thoughts on the subject; to give you our experience of how we’ve found the most effective practitioners for ourselves.

1. Recommendations

We tend to start the process by asking for recommendations from people we trust.

If and when we receive a suggestion from this circle of people, we look them up on the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) directory, the UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) directory or the Counselling Directory.

These are three of the most credible, frequently used, and useful places for such practitioners. If we are looking for a practitioner of colour, then we would also consult BAATN (Black African and Asian Therapy Network) as that is a directory / organisation specifically for practitioners of Black, Caribbean and Asian backgrounds.

The BACP & UKCP are the two biggest and most well-known membership bodies for such practitioners.

2. Geographical area

Next, we select practitioners in our particular geographical area.

If you choose someone in your own area, be mindful that you may bump into them on the street and you may feel obliged to introduce them to your friends or family if you are not alone. Of course, this is not a problem or a necessity, but it is worth bearing in mind because a lot of people do feel obliged or that it is good manners to do so.

If you want to see someone face to face, then a local area may work in place of the same area; there would certainly be less chance of bumping into them although not impossible.

If you are happy to work remotely / online with a counsellor or coach, then the country is your oyster.

3. Practitioners abroad

Working with someone abroad is not as straight-forward as it might appear as the location in which they are based in may have a different set of rules and legalities should they be required. Of course, all these points should be discussed with whoever you choose to work with.

They may also be in a different time zone and this needs to be taken into account as it may impact your work in a number of ways.

The next step is crucial in our opinion, whether you have followed up on a personal recommendation or consulted a directory only.

4. Resonance

Read their entry in a directory.

Do their words and their picture resonate with your ideals, values, beliefs?

What does your intuition (or ‘gut feeling’) tell you?

Do you feel comfortable with what they’ve written?

Do you feel you could talk openly with the person facing you from the screen?

If you don’t know, keep looking.

If you’ve reached the end of your list and you still don’t know, sit with it for a few days.

If you still have no clarity and you feel unsure of what your intuition or gut feeling is saying or even whether you’ve got a gut feeling/ intuition, give us a call. We can help you to access or develop your intuition.

Everyone has intuition, but it can sometimes get buried under layers of head-thinking or we can get disconnected from it through lack of use.

5. Qualifications and experience

An additionally important quality to check about your prospective practitioner are their qualifications and experience.

This is not so much about how much (although that can be important too), but more about the variety and depth of these.

Many practitioners offer a brief initial consultation these days which gives both parties a chance to find out what the broad issues are and whether the therapist has competency in that area, as well as whether you both feel comfortable with each other.

You as the client need to assess not only this, but also whether you feel you could be honest about your personal, and sometimes painful. Whether you choose to open up about particular topics is always your choice, but this is a good marker of how comfortable you feel and how open and trusting you could be with the person in front of you.

If such a facility is not offered, be assured that you can usually ask any questions you may have by email and if at the outset of the work, you feel that it is not working for you – for whatever reason – you can terminate the work according to the notice period agreed.

We hope this information is of some value to you. If not, please ask your individual question(s) in the comments below.

If it does give value, do let us know which areas specifically feel most useful so that we can ensure we give more of that type of information.

It is also useful to know what has not been helpful for you, so we can improve our blog posts and make them more relevant to your needs.

If you’d like to read or know about any specific areas of our work, please do let us know in the comments below as we are always keen to provide a useful service through our blogs as well as through our therapy, coaching and consultation activities.

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