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Mental health matters

Finding a counsellor or therapist

Here are several ways to find counselling or a counsellor:

  • Primary care (GP) and NHS therapists which is free
  • Charity/ voluntary sector therapists for which you may pay
  • Therapists through your place of work/ education
  • Private therapists for which you pay

Your doctor/ GP

For many, the first place people call is their doctor/ GP. They should be familiar with your medical history and can direct you to the appropriate treatment or service. Depending on your needs, these services may be provided by your GP surgery, a large local health centre, a specialist mental health clinic or a hospital. The treatment may be provided on a one-to-one basis or in a group with others with similar difficulties. Therapy can also sometimes involve partners and families. You have the legal right to choose which provider and clinical team you're referred to by your GP for your first outpatient appointment. In most cases, you have a right to choose which mental health service provider you go to in England.

Things to consider

  • Therapy provided through the NHS should be free of charge
  • You'll want to make sure that the therapist you see is qualified and works to professional standards; eg: BACP and/ or UKBP (see below)
  •  It may be helpful to check your counsellor has experience working with LGBTQ+ people and/ or has had appropriate training
  • Treatment can be shorter (weeks/ months) to longer (months/ years) depending on your needs.
  • If at any point you feel uncomfortable, you have every right to stop your sessions and find a more suitable counsellor
  • Some local authorities operate services you can contact directly to refer yourself
  • Some HIV organisations provide counselling directly or may be able to signpost you

Some of us prefer gay or gay-friendly services which, as a rule, are much better understanding the issues affecting our lives, and the context. Others are happy to access mainstream services. Most health services aim to be welcoming, respectful, knowledgeable, and understanding. The thing is to find a service that’s right for you and that “gets the job done” so to speak.

The reality

The reality is many people - including LGBT+ people - are trying to access counselling and mental health services at a time when there is less funding and more cuts than ever before. Yes, there's a lot of hoopla in the media about the importance of mental health support but words need to be turned into actions so people like you (reading this) can access the support you need with ease and in a reasonable time.

Increased visibility and, in part, on the back of the COVID pandemic, counselling and mental health support advertisements are popping up everywhere (some glorified databases with a flashy front page) so be mindful and be thorough when seeking support.

Types of counselling and therapy

Types of talking therapy | NHS
What different therapies are there? | MIND
A-Z of types of therapy | BACP
Types of psychotherapy | UKCP

The largest registering bodies in the UK, the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) trains psychotherapists while the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) trains counsellors and psychotherapists. For example, public sector jobs as a psychotherapist or counsellor adverts usually ask for someone who is BACP or UKCP registered.


How to find a therapist | British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
How to choose a psychotherapist | UK Council for Psychotherapy

Talking therapy and counselling | Mind
How to access mental health services | NHS
Counselling | NHS

Finding the right chemsex support | MEN R US

 Mental health: Unqualified therapists exploiting vulnerable patients | BBC | 5 Nov 2021
HIV-positive people ‘fearful’ of therapists as critical NHS mental health failings exposed | Pink News | 21 Oct 2021
How to find the right therapist | The Guardian | 9 Jan 2021

Directories and signposting

Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline
Listening service for LGBT+ people over the phone, via email and online chat. Can provide you with contact details of an LGBT+ friendly therapist.

Pink Therapy
Directory of qualified LGBTQIA+ friendly therapists and counsellors providing trusted, non-judgmental services for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, asexual, intersex and anyone who identifies as gender, sex or relationship diverse.

London Friend
Offers support groups and services, such as counselling and drug and alcohol support.

Supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) Muslims. Online forum where people can share experiences and ask for help.

Pink Therapy
Online directory of therapists who work with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer or questioning (LGBTIQ), and people who are gender- and sexual-diverse (GSD).

Get information about mental health support for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, non-binary, queer or questioning (LGBTIQ).

LGBT+ membership organisation with Directory to find local mental health services.

LGBT Foundation
Offers information, advice, and support services, including a Talking Therapies Programme for LGBT people living in the Northwest

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