I get asked a lot, and see a lot of tweets, about accessing private therapy, how much it costs, what it entails and how to find someone. Thought it might be useful to put this into a post for people to use – aren’t I nice?! I’ll give an honest and open insight into it, which should hopefully help.
I sought help with my anxiety after it had gotten too hard to cope with. I’d had therapy in the past and decided I needed some more help. I’d used always used the NHS without any waiting lists, but as I’d heard they had gotten worse and didn’t want to wait 48 years to speak to someone on the phone, I decided private was the best option for me. So… what did it entail?
Finding the right therapist
Sounds really obvious, but I did just google. I knew I wanted help with anxiety, so I had a look around, found 2 that I liked the sound of and emailed them to discuss what I needed, and how much it would be.
Choosing the right therapist
Of the two I found, one was a counsellor offering various treatments, while the other was a psychotherapist, who specialised in working with people specifically with anxiety and PTSD. The latter was the more expensive of the two, but this felt the right fit for me.
I think the only benefit I found was having more control around how often you go, the way you work with them and speed in accessing the service. I was in within 2 weeks and opted for appointments every 2 weeks. Though all of this was good, the end result was no better than what I’d experienced with the NHS.
What we did
I went to a private clinic which was quiet and not too fat from me. The woman was lovely but professional, and we talked about various things in my first appointment, and decided that after having CBT therapy a few times I’d understood that, so we moved more onto ACT, which is about acceptance. It really did help and gave me a new insight.
Additionally we touched on some counselling helping me to get my head around some things that I went through as a kid. Whatever helped me at the time to express myself.
The bit everyone wants to know about… ‘how much will this bloody cost me?’. Obviously in the ideal world, all mental health treatment would be readily available on the NHS, but sadly we’re not in an ideal world and I don’t think thinks are going to get much easier (I refuse to mention the B word…), so for some of us it’s about finding an alternative. I understand not everyone is in the position to do so, this is more about being as honest as possible so people know the options available to them.
‘Alright mate we get the point, how much?’
The two options I looked at were £30ph for the counsellor and £60ph for the psychotherapist. As mentioned, I opted for the psychotherapist which clearly wasn’t the cheapest option but it was the best for me. The lady I worked with was very good, telling me I’d need 6-8 sessions but after the 6th we decided that was enough – all in all the cost was £360.
It is a lot of money, and feels difficult to find, but for me this was an investment in myself to keep me moving forward.
Would I recommend private?
The truth is yes, but no more than the NHS service. The only differences for me are in the waiting times – sadly we can wait a long time to access the NHS service and for me I was worried it would have been too late for me, and I’d have just gotten worse.
If you’re considering it but financially it’s difficult, look at perhaps 1 £30 session per month for 6 months, and substitute it for something i.e. 10 Starbucks per month, a night out, a takeaway (I’d have added chocolate into this list but I’m not a psychopath). If you’re able, invest in yourself and give yourself the tools to make yourself stronger.
Hope this helps!
Excellent piece I relate to extremely well. I suffered 19 years of nonstop depression and the NHS gave me 14 weeks of psychotherapy in 2006… I had to wait 2 years for that. It wasn’t enough but all I was gonna be entitled to get. It failed and there were more years of utter misery going nowhere. In September 2015, I asked my GP about therapy and he said he would refer me BUT there was a THREE YEAR waiting list. Fortunately, I’d had a windfall from the DWP, backpayments for sickness benefits, so bit the bullet and decided to “go private”. I searched around and in the end settled upon a counsellor which would cost me £25 per hour. We discussed my needs and I got a good feeling so decided to go along with her. Best investment I ever made in my life. I had 54 sessions which ended in November 2016 and it did the job admirably. I regained my life.
I still have occasional “off” days but I am now able to let them be, shrug ’em off and move on. The sad fact is, the NHS is at breaking point (perhaps beyond) so waits are horribly long… three years is a long time to lose and “going private” changed my life for the better in every way as since then I have gone from strength to strength. I was lucky that I could afford it and do recommend this route where possible but it is important to shop around and check out therapists and counsellors and select the one that feels “right” as you are gonna build up a relationship/collaboration with them so trust is hugely important.
Thank you for reading and commenting! It’s actually quite worrying how long the waiting lists are, and some people just don’t have that long. As you say, not everyone is fortunate but where possible I think do it, it’s the best decision I could have made. I’m glad it worked for you and you’re able to get some of your life back
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