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How to Find a Good Therapist or Counsellor

by edinburghtherapyservice
9 minutes read

Feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of therapists and therapy options? Navigating the therapeutic landscape can be daunting, especially with the absence of legal regulations around the use of titles like therapist or counsellor. Yet, the decision to embark on the journey of therapy is a significant and courageous step towards mental well-being. Finding the right therapist is key, and we understand the challenges you may face. In this diverse therapeutic landscape, we present a guide to finding a good therapist in the UK.

How to find a therapist that is right for you

The first step in your journey is self-reflection. Clearly define your needs and counselling goals. Whether it’s managing anxiety, depression, OCD, coping with relationship issues, or personal growth, knowing your objectives will guide you towards a counsellor with the expertise that aligns with your unique concerns.

Counsellors employ various approaches. Some of them are short-term and focused on the present problems, while others can be long-term approaches focused on making sense of the past. Research these different types of therapy to identify what resonates with you. A good therapist will discuss their approach openly and tailor it to your needs.

What makes a good therapist

Here you will find a list of things to look for in a therapist:


A good therapist has good training

A competent therapist is fully qualified and possesses formal training, indicating a strong foundation in therapeutic principles and methodologies. It encompasses a deep understanding of various therapeutic approaches, ethical considerations, and the ability to apply evidence-based practices in their work. 

Ensure your therapist’s educational institution is officially acknowledged by relevant UK boards. You can check this by consulting directories like the Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA), the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) the British Psychological Association (BPS) accredited course list. Don’t be afraid to ask your therapist where they have been trained. 

A diverse array of training and acknowledged qualifications exists. Below, you’ll find a list of acronyms commonly encountered in the search for a therapist. This guide aims to familiarise you with the terminology. It’s important to verify with your therapist, or the relevant professional regulating organisation whether your therapist’s training is officially approved and recognized.

BA/ BSc/BSc(Psych): Undergraduate degrees completed as a precursor to the subsequent qualification level certifying a person as a counsellor.

MA/ MSc: Masters completed after an undergraduate degree 

MSc Psychology conversion: A master’s program designed for individuals holding a BA/BSc in a field other than Psychology. It is comparable to a BSc in Psychology but at the advanced level of a master’s degree.

DPsych postgraduate diploma of counselling psychotherapy

Level 4 and 5 diploma in counselling

DClinPsych doctor of clinical psychology 

D’Couns Psych doctor of counselling psychology 

PGDip (PGDip CBT, PGDip CAT, etc) postgraduate diploma in a specific modality of therapy 

PG Cert postgraduate certificate

A good therapist is registered within an appropriate association

An indication of a good therapist is their registration with an appropriate professional association. This affiliation signifies that the therapist adheres to ethical standards, engages in ongoing professional development, and follows guidelines set by the association. Being part of such an association demonstrates a commitment to maintaining high-quality standards in therapeutic practice. Additionally, it provides a level of assurance for clients, as they can trust that the therapist is part of a recognized and regulated professional community. Before selecting a therapist, it’s advisable to check their registration with an appropriate association. There are several associations a psychologist, therapist or counsellor can be registered with: 

➤   British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) 

➤   Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA)

➤   The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)

➤   British Psychological Society (BPS). 

➤   British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)

➤   Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

➤   National Counselling & Psychotherapy Society (NCPS)

➤   Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP)

A good therapist engages in personal development

An effective therapist and counsellor not only possesses recognized qualifications and training but also actively participates in continuous professional development (CPD). This commitment ensures they stay informed about the latest advancements in the field, enabling them to offer high-quality and effective care. This involves undertaking new training, staying updated with the latest research, reading relevant literature, and attending conferences. By embracing these practices, therapists enhance their knowledge and skills, ultimately benefiting those they serve. 

Don’t be shy about enquiring about your therapist’s involvement in continuous professional development, ask about additional training they’ve undertaken, and understand how they stay current with the latest research.

A good therapist is emotionally intelligent

A good counsellor embodies a myriad of qualities essential for effective therapeutic practice. Central to this is the ability to empathise and actively listen, creating a safe and compassionate space for clients. Ethical practice, cultural sensitivity, and clear communication further characterise a good therapist.

Maintaining healthy boundaries, fostering a non-judgmental attitude, and empowering clients are integral aspects of creating a conducive therapeutic environment. Additionally, a good therapist engages in continuous self-reflection, demonstrating self-awareness and resilience in managing challenging emotional content. Problem-solving skills, a genuine commitment to client well-being, and a dedication to fostering a strong therapeutic alliance contribute to the overall effectiveness of a therapist. In essence, a skilled therapist combines these qualities to guide clients toward positive change and growth.

Further reading

Your qualified counsellor in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Therapy Service offers both in-person counselling in Edinburgh (United Kingdom), and online therapy accessible worldwide. We are qualified and registered with reputable professional associations for psychotherapy and counselling.

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The Edinburgh Therapy Service is a psychotherapy and counseling practice based in Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom). We offer therapy both in-person in Edinburgh and online, available in English and Spanish.

Contact info

Contact us for more information or to book your first appointment: [email protected]