Choosing a counsellor | Redlands Counselling and Training

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Choosing a counsellor

How do I know if I need counselling?

Deciding whether or not you need counselling can be a personal decision, but there are some signs that might indicate it could be beneficial:

  • Persistent Feelings of Distress: If you're consistently feeling overwhelmed, anxious, sad, or angry, and these feelings are impacting your ability to function in daily life.
  • Difficulty Coping with Stress: If you're having trouble managing stress or dealing with life changes, such as a breakup, job loss, or loss of a loved one.
  • Interpersonal Problems: If you're experiencing frequent conflicts in your relationships, whether it's with family, friends, or colleagues.
  • Changes in Behaviour or Mood: If you notice significant changes in your behaviour, mood, or sleeping/eating patterns that are affecting your well-being.
  • Past Trauma: If you have experienced a traumatic event in the past and find it difficult to cope or process your feelings about it.
  • Feeling Stuck: If you feel stuck in a rut, lacking direction or purpose in life, and are unsure how to move forward.
  • Self-Destructive Behaviours: If you're engaging in harmful behaviours such as substance abuse, self-harm, or risky sexual behaviour.
  • Lack of Support: If you feel like you don't have a supportive network of friends or family to turn to during difficult times.
  • Physical Symptoms: If you're experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, or fatigue, which may be related to stress or emotional issues.
  • Loss of Interest: If you've lost interest in activities you used to enjoy, or if you're having trouble finding pleasure in life.

If any of these signs resonate with you, it might be helpful to consider seeking counselling or therapy. Mental health problems are becoming increasingly common in society today, with around 1 in 4 adults estimated to experience depression. (https:/

The first port of call is usually the GP at your surgery, who can signpost you to the most appropriate type of help.

two counselling chairs

What types of counselling are there?

 The stereotypical ‘therapists couch’ is far less common than it used to be! Nowadays there are a multitude of practitioners, theories, practices and methods of delivery. Since the pandemic remote counselling has gained in popularity.

The NHS Guidance on the different types of help available is a useful document :

In addition, the BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy) has published an excellent guide that explains the different theories and practices, as well as looking at the suitability of each.

Choosing a counsellor

Choosing the right counsellor in the UK is an important decision. The right person can significantly impact your mental health and well-being. Here are some tips to help you make an informed choice:

  • Identify your needs: Take some time to reflect on what you hope to gain from counselling. Consider the specific issues or challenges you are facing and what type of support you are looking for.
  • Research different approaches: There are various counselling approaches, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, person-centred therapy, and more. Research different approaches to find one that resonates with you and aligns with your needs. At Redlands we teach the humanistic or person-centred style of counselling, which means that the counsellor is led by the client to help individuals gain insights into their thoughts and feelings.
  • Check their qualifications and accreditation: Look for counsellors who are registered with a professional body such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). This ensures that they have met certain standards of training and ethical practice.
  • Consider their experience: Consider the counsellor's experience working with issues similar to yours. Ask about their areas of expertise and how they approach specific challenges.
  • Seek recommendations: Ask friends, family, or healthcare professionals for recommendations. Personal referrals can be a valuable way to find a counsellor who is trusted and respected.
  • Read reviews: Look for reviews and testimonials online to get an idea of other people's experiences with the counsellor. While individual experiences may vary, reading reviews can provide valuable insights.
  • Accessibility: Consider practical factors such as the counsellor's location, availability, and fees. Choose a counsellor whose location and availability align with your schedule and preferences, and inquire about their fees and any available payment options.
  • Trust your instincts: Trust your gut feeling when meeting or speaking with a counsellor. Pay attention to how comfortable you feel with them and whether you feel heard and understood.
  • Ask questions: Don't be afraid to ask questions during your initial consultation with a counsellor. Clarify any concerns you may have and ensure that you have a clear understanding of their approach and how they could support you.
  • Initial consultation: Most counsellors offer an initial consultation or assessment session, which allows you to get a sense of whether they are the right fit for you. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions and assess your rapport with the counsellor.

By far the most important aspect of a successful client/counsellor relationship is trust. You need to feel comfortable with the person you will be talking to. There is nothing wrong in asking for a trial session. These are often free. A good therapist should be keen to make sure you are comfortable before they allow you to start.

Where can I find a counsellor?

Unfortunately, the profession is not formally regulated, and the quality of provision can vary greatly. You will need to do some research! When looking for a directory of counsellors to choose from it is best to start with well-established professional membership organisations. The BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), regulates the practice of counselling and psychotherapy in the UK, and has a counsellor directory that we recommend.  The UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) is the professional association and regulatory body for psychotherapists and they have their own directory.

Betterhelp is an American company that helps people to find a counsellor. It is one of the many counselling networks that have grown up in recent years, and they have been spending a lot of money advertising in the UK. As with all such organisations, it is unregulated. You should ensure that wherever you find your counsellor, they are properly trained and supported, are members of established professional bodies, and have had enough experience to be able to practice effectively.

You may be interested to watch this documentary that aired on Channel 4 :  ‘I don’t trust my therapist c4’

How much does it cost?

There are no fixed prices for the industry, but hourly rates can vary from £20 to £200, depending on who you choose.

Mind is the leading UK mental health charity and has published a useful article that includes advice about accessing free or low-cost counselling:

Some community counselling services are more affordable than private practitioners.

The Redlands Community Counselling Service

As part of our mission to help the world be a better place and in order to support our students in training, we offer a counselling service from our offices in Bournemouth, Dorchester and remotely. Details here

The first session

The first session is usually spent setting expectation levels and boundaries. The counsellor will ask the client questions at the first session, and it is a chance for both client and counsellor to decide if they can work together. Sometimes the initial sessions are free or discounted.

This BACP video "What to Expect in Your First Session" is informative.


If you are unhappy with the service you have received from your counsellor you should at first try to sort it out directly with them. If this is not possible you can make a formal complaint through their regulatory body.