The Top 5
Therapy 101: Deciphering Who To See & What To Expect
Therapy 101: Deciphering Who To See & What To Expect
Finding high quality mental health care can feel a little daunting - and not least when you’re navigating a difficult period in your life. So to coincide with World Mental Health Day, we’ve done a deep dive into everything you need to know about mental health care: from the types of practitioners to the most common types of therapy and how they differ.

Who can call themselves a psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a medically trained doctor with additional training in the field of psychiatry. Becoming a psychiatrist can require up to 14 years of training: a 4-6 year medical degree; 2 year foundation programme of general training; 3 year core training in psychiatry; and 3 year higher training in a speciality.  

What qualifications should I look out for?

As a medical practitioner, they must be registered with the General Medical Council to practise legally and many psychiatrists also become members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which provides ongoing up-to-date training for members.

What types of areas can they help with?

Psychiatrists deal with a broad scope of mental health conditions, from depression and anxiety to eating disorders and addiction. You’ll usually require a referral from your GP to see one.

What forms of therapy do they do?

They are trained to diagnose mental illnesses and will incorporate physical examinations into their diagnosis and they can prescribe medication. They will usually put you in touch with another professional (like a clinical psychologist or counsellor) for further therapy.

What should I expect to pay?

You can see a psychiatrist via the NHS for free, or privately. Private psychiatrist appointment costs range from roughly: 

London: £400

Outside London: £275


Who can call themselves a psychologist?

Alarmingly, unlike other countries (including many in Europe) where the title ‘psychologist’ is legally protected, this isn’t the case in the UK. Meaning in theory anyone can label themselves as a psychologist.

However, there are a number of titles that are legally protected, including clinical psychologist, counselling psychologist, practitioner psychologist and registered psychologist. All denote a level of training – a clinical psychologist, for example, has undertaken both undergraduate and doctoral training (six years of study: a three-year undergraduate degree in psychology accredited by The British Psychological Society (BPS), followed by a three-year postgraduate doctorate in clinical psychology).

What qualifications should I look out for?

Those who use protected titles such as clinical and counselling psychologist must be registered with the Health & Care Professionals Council (HCPC). The title chartered psychologist can be employed by those registered with the BPS, where experienced professionals are subject to strict conditions by the BPS. Their register, as well as that of the HCPC, can be a good place to start to ensure you’re working with a qualified professional.

What types of areas can they help with?

Psychologists can help with a wide variety of mental health conditions from treating mental illnesses, eating disorders, addiction or to assist someone going through a challenging period. Practitioners may specialise in a particular field – like grief, relationships or addiction – or focus on a particular group, such as children or people with learning disabilities. 

What forms of therapy do they do?

Psychologists employ a broad variety of techniques, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychoanalytic therapy, mindfulness and more (see our guide below).

What should I expect to pay? 

Many are available for free via the NHS. If you engage them privately, fees vary depending on location – a private practitioner with a prestigious London address will usually be significantly more expensive than a suburban practitioner. For example, an appointment with a private clinical psychologist tends to range from £100 upwards.

Counsellors & Therapists

Who can call themselves a counsellor or therapist?

These titles are not legally protected in the UK and are therefore available for use by anyone. However, most reputable practitioners will have undertaken a university or college degree, usually in psychology, nursing, social work or a related study.

Training can vary from a short online course to a postgraduate degree, so establishing where they have studied can be an important factor in finding and selecting a reputable practitioner. Additionally, registers like the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) require registered professionals to have completed BACP-approved training, which can help you find someone with adequate training.

What qualifications should I look out for?

You can find both types of practitioner registered with the BACP, who  require members to have undertaken a minimum of one year of full-time or two years of part-time tuition in a BACP accredited course, as well as a supervised placement of 100 hours of client work. 

What types of areas can they help with?

There is a great degree of overlap between how counsellors, therapists and psychologists practise and the mental health topics they can help with, so finding the right one for you may boil down to the training or qualifications an individual has or the form of therapy they favour. 

What forms of therapy do they do?

Counsellors and therapists provide a range of types of therapy, depending on the individual practitioner. Some might provide a more structured approach, others a safe and neutral place for you to discuss what’s concerning you. 

What should I expect to pay?

As with psychologists, you can see a therapist or counsellor for free on the NHS or engage a private practitioner. For private therapy, you can pay anything from £40 into the hundreds of pounds.


Who can call themselves a psychotherapist?

Like counsellors and therapists, psychotherapist isn’t a registered title in the UK. But as with counsellors and therapists, reputable psychotherapists will have undertaken a course in psychology or a related subject. 

The title ‘registered psychotherapist’ is controlled by the UK Council for Psychotherapy. Once registered, they have to adhere to standards of professional practice and a code of ethics.

What qualifications should I look out for?

This is the same for counsellors and therapists: the BACP register is a good place to start to ensure you find a well-trained practitioner. 

What types of areas can they help with?

A psychotherapist can also assist with mental illnesses as well as other life events and issues you might need help with. 

What forms of therapy do they do?

Again, there’s a lot of crossover with other practitioners mentioned here. However, psychotherapists might also incorporate other techniques – like expressing yourself through art or music – as part of their treatment. 

What should I expect to pay?

Again, as with counsellors and therapists, you’re looking at anywhere from £10 to hundreds of pounds, depending on location, for a private appointment.

What are the different types of therapy available?

Here are some of the most common forms of treatment you’ll encounter. Obviously, this is far from being an exhaustive list and in practice, therapists might combine a few techniques or put their own individual spin on them to best suit your needs.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): This is one of the most common forms of therapy out there. It links mental health issues and their symptoms to unhelpful thought patterns. By dismantling these thought patterns, you can thus address and prevent these symptoms at the source. It’s used to treat a broad scope of mental illnesses. 
  • Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT): A variation of CBT, it shares many of CBT’s principles but also has a strong focus on self acceptance and learning to deal with intense emotions. DBT often involves more group work than CBT. It was developed to treat Borderline Personality Disorder but is also recommended for those dealing with other mental illnesses.
  • Family/couples therapy: This is geared towards improving relationships or working through problems in a neutral, supportive environment. It often combines talking therapy with other exercises to help improve communication.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy: The focus here is on working through subconscious thoughts and feelings or negative childhood experiences that could be manifesting in a mental illness or poor mental health in your life today.
  • Humanistic therapy: Rooted in the idea that humans are inherently good, this approach involves a lot of self-exploration in an open and supportive environment to find the solution to issues you are dealing with and to pursue personal growth. This is a therapy that’s suited to a variety of mental illnesses as well as those who deal with low self esteem.
The ultimate edit – the hottest products, the latest looks, the greatest places.

Become a Hunter.

Become part of a savvy group of beauty, grooming & wellness Hunters - try products and places for free, vote on whether they deliver & get exclusive offers & invitations.

Join Us