Finding a private social anxiety therapist

Finding a Private Therapist

Some people may find accessing therapy via a private therapist a good alternative option for them rather than the NHS Talking Therapies Service. There may be many benefits to this, for example, a shorter waiting time, more sessions if needed or the flexibility to have appointments on the weekend.

Whilst we cannot directly endorse or comment on the suitability of any individual clinic or organisation, this page is intended as a guide to help you find a trained and registered health professional with appropriate qualifications and experience to support you with your social anxiety.

What therapy should I look for?

In line with NICE guidance, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the recommended therapy for treatment of social anxiety. Other therapies are available, but there is less clinical evidence to show they provide effective treatment. You can read more about CBT on our page What is CBT?.
Also see here for the NHS CBT – Overview and NHS CBT – How it Works.

So how do you find a private therapist?

One of the main difficulties with finding a private therapist is that the title ‘therapist’ is not protected by UK law. What this means is that anyone can label themselves a ‘therapist’, ‘psychologist’ or ‘counsellor’. The general public tends to assume a certain level of training and qualification from this term, which is why it is important to check each individual is registered to a governing body, and their credentials and qualifications.

The lead membership organisation for all CBT therapists in the UK is the BABCP (British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies). They have an online CBT register which can be used to search for therapists which acts as a good starting point to finding one in your local area. You need to scroll to the bottom of the BABCP search page –  until you see the section below:

BABCP accreditation is the minimum benchmark we recommend when seeking a private CBT therapist. Members need to have met a certain criteria in order to become a member, and for accreditation. Accreditation means that a CBT therapist has both core professional mental health training or recognised equivalent, as well as specific CBT training. Members also commit to maintaining set standards of clinical practice, clinical supervision and continuing professional development, and are audited to ensure these expectations continue to be met. Don’t assume someone is an accredited member because it says they are on their website, do your own research and check their name against the BABCP register (i.e. use the first of the two tabs in the image above)

Please note that BABCP accreditation is not necessarily a qualification of excellence in treating social anxiety – you will have to do your own homework to make sure they are the right therapist to help and treat you. To do this you may have to contact several therapists individually and ask them about their knowledge of social anxiety. We write about this later in this article.

BABCP should not be confused with the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) who are the lead organisation for counsellors in the UK, and have their own separate register. Some people find counselling very helpful for a range of issues, but it is not recommended as a treatment for social anxiety. You can see our page on counselling here : Finding-a-counsellor.

Another criteria to consider are therapists registered with HCPC (Health & Care Professionals Council), this would usually be a clinical psychologist who are also able to use CBT to treat disorders including social anxiety. A clinical psychologist is someone who has completed a PhD over a minimum of three years training in different clinical settings, and therefore has a Doctor title. You can check if your potential therapist is registered with the HCPC by visiting and selecting ‘practitioner psychologist’. The same principles apply when searching for a private therapist here – it is important to ask the right questions to make an informed decision. It does not necessarily mean they are more qualified or better at treating social anxiety because of their title.


The cost of a therapy is session is one of the first questions we will want to ask. With the rising cost of living this is understandable, and it is important to remember the cost of a session is not proportionate to the quality of therapy you may receive. Prices will vary, but so will their social anxiety treatment skill levels, so a cheap therapist (or indeed an expensive one) may not be the best option. Therapists in different regions may charge different rates, some with more qualifications or training may also charge more. Regardless of the price it is important to ask in advance, clarifying how long your appointments will be and what the cancellation policy is.

We would definitely recommend asking relevant questions (see our next section) to gauge if the therapist is right for you.

Remember, this is your money. It is unlikely you would look at a new home without finding out how many bedrooms it has, what the neighborhood is like and other specifications. Don’t be afraid to contact the therapist in advance to ask questions to clarify this information. A good therapist should be willing to give you some time to go through this – either through a video or telephone call or even email. Any reluctance might indicate maybe this isn’t the right therapist for you!

Additionally, some therapists may offer a ‘sliding scale’ of appointment cost. What this means is depending on how much you earn, your sessions may cost less than what the therapist usually charges. You may be asked to provide evidence of your earnings if this is the case.

Questions to ask your potential therapist

We suggest some examples of questions that you can ask your potential therapist. Whilst they don’t necessarily guarantee you will find a specialist or the perfect therapist, they can filter out those of may not be the best fit for you.

These questions could be asked in person (or by phone) but for those with social anxiety an email is usually easier.

Firstly, it is helpful to ascertain whether the therapist has treated social anxiety before? If they have not, then it is ok to feel they may not be the therapist for you, but for some people this may not matter as much.

Secondly, you should check how they offer therapy? Is it in person sessions, online video call, telephone or typed. The former are more beneficial to treating social anxiety and recommended by NICE Social Anxiety Guidelines for the General Public.

Other possible questions include:
• Will we set out a specific CBT treatment plan collaboratively, specific to my problems?
• Will treatment goals be set collaboratively?
• Do you use a technique called ‘graded exposure’?
• Do you use a technique called ‘behavioural experiments’?
• Do you set practical exercises or ‘homework’ for me, and help me understand the purpose and outcome of these exercises?
• Do you check-in on ‘homework’ tasks the following week to see how I got on?

The answers to the above should usually be yes. You could also ask some general questions about social anxiety, or relating to your own problems with social anxiety, to gauge if they recognise some of the terminology used and understand the nature of your difficulties.
It is also helpful to ask how many treatment sessions you will need and how long each session is. NICE guidelines recommend around 14 sessions, approximately one per week.

Some people have stayed with the same private therapist for a year or longer because they like the therapist and feel they can talk. Whilst of course that is important, it’s worth remembering the reason we first went to therapy was to overcome social anxiety, so we really need an effective therapist! So if you’re still with the same therapist in the long-term, you might need to review if you’re making progress and if this person is able to help you.

What problems do people face when looking for private therapy?

Beware of unqualified or unsuitable practitioners! With a myriad of anxiety and social anxiety treatments available, many people have sometimes been tempted by the offer of quick fix cures. These often end up being time and money wasters offered by people with sometimes no medical or clinical qualifications nor experience at all. As previously mentioned, anyone can call themselves a ‘therapist’ so it’s imperative to check credentials and qualifications. There are many official sounding counselling and therapy bodies, but not all check the credentials of their members, so do your research and never be afraid to ask questions.

Whilst accreditation and training are definitely important considerations, unfortunately this may not always be enough to guarantee good quality treatment. Some therapists may still, for whatever reason, not be able to provide suitable treatment for you. If you feel this is the case, and discussing it with your therapist does not help, you are not obliged to stay with them. If you feel your therapy is no longer working see our pages on (insert link What do to when therapy isn’t working)

You can read more about how to find a therapist on the following pages: Mind’s pages on how to find a therapist as well as our page on What the NHS offers.

All information correct as of March 2024.