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  • alicecrocker11

How to find the right coach or counsellor for you

Updated: Jul 6, 2022


A great place to start is directories, where you can filter by location, issue, modality, duration and many other preferences.

For counselling, there are the BACP and UKCP directories, where accredited counsellors who are accountable to these awarding bodies will be listed. Another great place to start is the Counselling Directory.

BACP coaches can also be found on the BACP directory and ICF has a directory of credentialed coaches. There is also the Life Coach Directory.

Welldoing has directories for therapists and coaches and a matching service.

What different modalities mean

Practitioners will often list the way they practise but this can be like learning another language if you are not familiar with the different modalities. Here is a list of the most common and what they usually involve:

  • CBT - or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the most commonly known style, used widely in the NHS and other organisations. CBT tends to be brief and focus on the present-day and presenting issues such as panic attacks. You will learn to notice and name irrational thoughts or beliefs and learn techniques to manage your issues. This style tends to be very direct and less focused on simply being with and listening to your whole story.

  • NLP - or Neuro-linguistic Programming is a style of coaching similar to cognitive behavioural therapies. It works on the theory that life experiences, from birth onwards, programme the way you see the world and it looks at how to re-programme the outlooks that don't serve you.

  • Person-Centred - at the other end of the spectrum, Person-Centred therapy is less directive and more focused on listening to you and trusting you as the client to know yourself best and choose how the counselling unfolds. Person-centred practitioners are focused on building a supportive relationship by providing you with empathy, unconditional positive regard and being congruent, or authentic with you.

  • Psychodynamic - this is what many people think of when they picture a therapist. A therapist will aim to build an accepting and trusting relationship, encouraging you to talk about your childhood relationships with your parents and other significant people. Not to be confused with Psychoanalysis which is a very specific form of psychodynamic therapy that is not as commonly used in the UK.

  • A full list of approaches can be found on the BACP website.

Free resources

Many educational institutions, including schools, colleges and universities have a free counselling service. It is important to note these are often time-limited and more directive. Check the welfare section of their website for more information.

Low cost/trainees

If you search for low-cost services in your local area, you will find organisations that range from free to around £15/hour. The more affordable services can have long waiting lists but you will usually have an assessment to place you with the most appropriate practitioner available, which takes away the need for you to choose someone. Low-cost services often employ counsellors-in-training, who are not yet qualified but who have hours of supervised practice on their courses and who are supervised by more experienced therapists.

Group work

Group therapy is often more affordable but many people do not consider group work because of how exposing it can feel. However, these groups are supervised by an experienced facilitator to contain the experience and allow the group to be a supportive and safe space to share.

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