How to find a suitable counsellor in the UK

This article gives some tips to dually diagnosed people in the UK residents with finding a suitable counsellor.
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How to find a suitable counsellor in the UK

We’re aware that a lot of visitors to this site will probably benefit from professional counselling or therapy to aid the maintenance of their recovery or to support people in processing their lives & the traumas that many of us have experienced.

Ongoing counselling can be a really useful aid to recovery when you have a dual diagnosis.

Personally, now that I’ve found a counsellor who is MH-aware, has experience in helping people to process my particular experiences, and that I like & trust, I would recommend this as a good option for a lot of people.

This piece of text is meant to help you become aware of certain things that may save you some time and that we wish we’d known when we started looking for a trained therapist or counsellor.

I’m on disability benefits and can’t afford a trained therapist:

In the UK, psychotherapy often isn’t available on the NHS. There are lots of organisations and therapists who will provide a discount for people on low incomes, though.

We recommend that you ask them whether they offer a lower rate right at the start of any communication with them as it’ll save you and them time. Some may say yes, some may say no, but be upfront about what you can afford.

I have complex mental health issues

It’s often worth checking with your psychiatrist as to whether they think you’re in the right place to start doing long term psychotherapy.

They will no doubt be aware of your story and whether there’s any reason that they don’t think it would be good for either your mental health or even your addiction recovery. Personally, I didn’t start therapy until I’d got my first year clean & sober under my belt.

If your psychiatrist recommends leaving therapy alone until you’re more settled in your addiction recovery or if you’ve only recently diagnosed with a mental health problem, then we suggest that you go with what your psychiatrist’s advice.

The other reason why we think it’s a good idea to mention that you’d like to go into therapy, is that with some diagnoses, you can be referred to see a psychologist to help you to prepare for therapy and provide you with some tools to help you cope with any unpleasant thoughts or emotions that may sometimes crop up in therapy.

Next, we recommend that you inform the counselling organisation or therapist as to what your mental health challenges are right at the start.

This is because some counselling services or even counsellors won’t take on people with certain diagnoses due to not having the experience or knowledge around your mental health diagnosis.

Whatever your mental health diagnosis though, there will be people who can help you somewhere; it just may take some time to search for a suitable therapist.

Choosing a good & suitable counsellor for your mental health &/or trauma

In traditional addiction support groups, there is often an opportunity to talk about one’s life as part of the process. But, if you’ve experienced some form of trauma (and a lot of people with mental health challenges have), then we would urge you to consider finding a suitable counsellor or therapist to help with this.

There are a lot of kind, caring & compassionate people who have a sincere desire to help in addiction recovery, and life in general, but they often aren’t professionally trained to help people who have experienced complex traumas.

If that description applies to your story, then we recommend that you try to find a suitable counsellor who is capable of helping you to process your ‘stuff’ in more detail.

For some types of trauma, such as abuse or rape, then there may well be organisations local to you that specialise in those types of trauma, so if that applies to you, then that may well be your first port of call.

Face-to-face/Zoom or Phone

If you’re in the UK, and are trying to find a counsellor from a site like, then how you’re happy to do the counselling (i.e. in-person, Zoom, or phone) is going to make a big difference to how many counsellors you’re able to access.

For example, you may feel most comfortable talking with talking honestly with someone in-person, in which case you will obviously need to search for a counsellor who is located close to where you live.

It’s horses for courses and if you struggle with finding a suitable counsellor who is local to you, or that has experience of your specific type of trauma (or mental health diagnosis), then don’t worry as all is not lost. There are other options available to you such as Zoom or even just talking over the phone.

If you’d prefer to do the counselling online or on the phone, then that may well enable you to look further afield in a directory of counsellors.

Some people may prefer to talk on the phone, but some will prefer f2f – do what’s comfortable for you and make sure that you find someone you warm to and feel like you’ll be able to talk honesty with.

If you have a diagnosis such as schizophrenia, or have suffered complex trauma(s), then it’s probably more important for you to find someone who you like and who you trust right from the word go.

As people with serious mental health challenges as well as addiction issues, we’ve often kept to ourselves and internalised a lot of emotions, thoughts and experiences over the years.

In that case, a trained psychotherapist would probably be a good option and opportunity to process our lives up to now and in the future.

I’ve experienced trauma(s) as a child

If you experienced trauma(s) as a child, having a therapist who has experience in the type(s) of trauma that you’ve experienced could be an important factor to consider.

Some of us have done specific counselling on the trauma with an organisation that specialises in the specific problems that can occur around that and have then moved on to more general therapy to use long-term.

Others may find that they don’t want to keep on talking about it and being reminded and we recommend that you follow your gut instinct on this as nobody knows more about you, your situation and how you tick than you do.

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How to find a suitable counsellor in the UK

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