Choosing a therapist

Choosing a counsellor or psychotherapist can be a daunting task as there are many different types of therapy and many different therapists with varying levels of training.

I am not able to offer an unbiased viewpoint, but if you bear that in mind, you may find the following thoughts useful


Consider the NHS

Before you consider paying to see a private therapist, you should be aware that counselling is available on the NHS.  In the York and Selby area all GP practices have access to a practice counsellor who can usually offer around 6-8 sessions.   Where longer work is required, your GP may be able to refer you for psychotherapy, or group therapy, though this provision is now very limited and this may reduce further in the future. The main drawback with counselling on the NHS is that at present appointments are only available during normal working hours and there are usually long waiting lists.


Contact the BACP Website

The largest association for counsellors in the UK is the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy).   Their website is   On their homepage under Find a Therapist you will find a button “Find a Therapist (UK)”.   Click on this and then enter your postcode or town and you will find a list of therapists in your area.

Contact Counselling Directory

Apart from the BACP Website, one of the best listings of local counsellors can be found on  On this directory each counsellor provides a profile which gives a lot of information about them and their way of working. 

Consider contacting more than one therapist

The most important factor in whether counselling is effective is your own motivation, and readiness to change and to become self-aware.   After this, however, the next most important factor is the relationship you are able to build with your therapist.    It is very important, therefore to choose a therapist with whom you feel comfortable working, and whom you feel you can trust.  It can be useful to approach several therapists and choose the one you feel you can work best with.    Sometimes you will get an impression of this from a phone call, but you may want to arrange to meet more than one.  A few therapists offer a free first appointment, but most charge for this first session.


Ask any therapist you are considering working with whether they have undertaken personal therapy themselves

There are now so many psychotherapy and counselling training courses available that it is extremely difficult to work out from a list of qualifications just how good any therapist's training is.   Most psychotherapy courses and some counselling courses insist that their trainees undertake their own personal therapy throughout their period of training.  The BACP used to insist on a period of personal therapy in order for counsellors to gain accreditation, but no longer does so - a change of policy I believe to be a mistake.   I would advise anyone who wishes to choose a therapist that they check that the therapist has undertaken a substantial period of personal therapy - I would recommend at least two years.  My reason for thinking this is that our ability to give care to others is seriously impaired when we struggle to regulate our own fear system.  As well as serving as a professional "apprenticeship" for a therapist, personal therapy significantly increases our capacity to regulate our own fear system.  The article Exploring Wellbeing on this website should help to clarify why this is so important for any professional caregiver.

The Tuke Centre

Apart from the NHS (accessed via your GP) and the BACP website for individual private therapists, I would recommend The Tuke Centre (the counselling and psychotherapy department of The Retreat) which is on Green Dykes Lane on the edge of the University Campus.    You can self-refer to the Tuke Centre – Tel: 430370

The above recommendation is made on the basis of my personal knowledge of a number of the therapists associated with the Tuke Centre

Individual recommendations

If you would like to consider seeing other therapists apart from myself or Fran Guilding, I would highly recommend the following:

Adriana Lombari-Bonefeld    07795 202760   (York - Scarcroft Rd area)

Christine Bailey                   01904 625320      (York - Leeman Rd area)

Liz Calvert                               07544 556428  (York - Acomb /Knapton area)

Tanya Jane-Patmore            07505 401597   (York - Hull  Rd area)  (Tanya does not yet have a website, but she is a highly experienced practitioner who also works at the Tuke  Centre.     We have trained together for a number of years with Una McCluskey in Exploratory Goal Corrected Psychotherapy (EGCPTM)    

Amaia Mackle                     01904 593514 (York - Acomb / Holgate area)

Sally Stacey                       07771 591935         (Pocklington area / Thixendale)


Michael Guilding