Counselling? NHS or Private?

The Differences Between the services offered on the NHS and by a Private Practice.

Clients are often in two minds about seeing a counsellor/psychotherapist in the NHS and seeing one who works in private practice.

The Pros and Cons of going NHS
-Most importantly, there is NO cost involved.
-The therapist is trained and should be accredited (always check).
-The therapist will be provided with supervision to ensure that their clinical work is being overseen.
-There is no choice in the therapist you see.
– There is little choice in the geographic location of the therapist.
-There is no choice in how long you are able to work with them.
-There is no choice in the approach of therapy you receive (CBT, psycho-dynamic, etc).
-There is little or no flexibility in scheduling.
-Your GP is the first step to being referred to an NHS therapist. Depending on where you live and the severity of the issues there may be a wait in getting your first appointment and you may be assessed first with another therapist or psychiatrist.
-Your medical records will note the referral.

The NHS website states the following regarding what they offer:
-Face to face Counselling
-Individually or in a group
-Over the Phone
-By email
-Using a specialized computer program
-You may be offered counseling as a single session, as a course of session over a few weeks or months or as a longer course that lasts several months or years.

The Pros and Cons of going Privately
-There is a choice of therapist.
-Choice of times offered outside of the normal working hours, (evening and weekend appointments)
-Choice of length of the therapy (short term/long term)
-Choice of therapy (psychodynamic, CBT, couples therapy. The list is vast and diverse).

-Therapists are required to have supervision and further personal development and are insured and (should be) accredited under the BACP or UKCP.
EXPENSE, there is a charge, which varies depending on the therapist.

In conclusion, there are pros and cons to both private and NHS counseling services. The main differences are the choice and expense. Choosing to go privately allows more of a bespoke service and works better for many people’s lifestyle.
When choosing to go privately, you are paying for a better environment to work in and more flexibility with times and whom you see.

It should be pointed out that there is a third alternative for those seeking therapy. There are several non-profit organisations out there that offer much lower fees with trained therapists for those financially unavailable to see a private therapist but wish for an alternative to the NHS. The services provided have their drawbacks as does going private or through the NHS, but that’s an article for another time!
Finally, please remember one thing: whether you choose to go NHS or Privately, the service should meet your requirements. It’s important to speak out if the service offered isn’t up to your expectations or needs.

Shirlee Kay

Leave a Reply