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Should You Look For a Local Therapist or Go For Online Therapy?

Medically Reviewed and Edited by 
Olga Kyrychenko, Psychologist

If you are now reading this then you have probably made the decision to seek some form of therapy for your mental health and well being. Whether you are currently suffering from depression, feeling anxious, experiencing bereavement or maybe just getting a bit too overwhelmed by work, you have made the right choice to try and seek out help. 

However in Autumn 2021, partially as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are more people than ever seeking therapy for something or other. This has placed unprecedented demand on therapists making them harder to access when they are needed the most. 

In this post, we will help you to identify how to find a therapist near you and will also look at whether online therapy might be helpful instead.


How to Find a Therapist Near You - Where to Start

Are you looking to find a therapist right now? Well before you go off and hit the phonebook looking for counseling services near you, there are a few preliminary considerations to take into account. Firstly, you need to have some idea of what kind of therapy you are seeking and what exactly you want help with. Are you wanting help with anxiety or addiction issues? Relationship counselling or post-traumatic stress disorder? Therapy may well help you identify that many of these issues are in fact interconnected and overlapping but for now start by asking what brought you to the realization that you want help, and work from there.

Once you have identified the issue, you should have a look into what type of therapies are typically available to treat it. For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is proving very effective in treating depression and anxiety. Having an idea of the type of therapy you want will help to find a therapist who specializes in it. On the other hand, do keep an open mind as once you start speaking to experts, they may feel a different form of therapy is suitable for you. 

The next thing to do is to try and get some expert recommendations. You could ask if your family Doctor knows a good therapist. If you are not comfortable speaking to your Doctor or simply want another suggestion then try a local mental health service or even charity – ask them if they know how to find a therapist nearby.

US Citizens should definitely ask their health insurance provider for a recommendation – this is especially relevant if you are intending to have your insurer pay for your treatment.  The only downside is that your insurer will probably have their own preferred therapist who may not be your personal top choice. You can also read our guide on the best online therapy with insurance.

Once you have identified a therapist, you could just go all in, book a consultation and see if you connect with them. Or you could try to research testimonies and inspect professional accreditations.

Finally, if you do decide to just use Google to find counselling near me , then remember the top search is only the one with the best online presence and this does not mean they are the best therapist.

Online vs. Live Therapy

Perhaps you are struggling to find a local therapist. Maybe their waiting lists are a bit too long and their hourly rate is just too high. Alternatively, maybe you tried a few different therapists but weren’t quite able to “click” with them.

If this is you, then it is time to consider virtual therapy. Online therapy is a service where a provider matches you with a suitable, and qualified therapist and you hold sessions remotely. online therapy sessions can be held via zoom, phone, or simply by text chat if you prefer.

online therapy opens up a much larger pool of potential therapists so you are not limited to whoever happens to be living locally in your area. However, you are limited to therapists who are registered to practice in your home state which does usually somewhat limit the scope. For example, Talkspace which is one of the biggest online therapy sites, has more than 5000 available counselors you can choose from. The choice can genuinely be overwhelming but helpfully, joinees complete a short questionnaire which helps to match them up with a shortlist of suitable candidates.

Another advantage of online therapy is that you can conduct the sessions from wherever you feel comfortable. If you do not feel able to see somebody face to face, then you can do telephony sessions, and if you don’t feel like speaking, you can just text chat in real time. There are even sites, such as Sondermind for example, which let you alternate between online and in-person therapy sessions.

Critics of online therapy however, maintain that their face to face, in person sessions are much more beneficial. Firstly, the therapist is able to observe your body language and general manner which helps them to better understand you and some studies also show that most patients feel better for having a physically present therapist.

Still, there are many advantages to online therapy and it is a great way to get help quickly and affordably. You can read our article explaining how effective online therapy is to learn more.

Costs of Therapy

If you live in a state healthcare system like the UK then the costs of your therapy may be covered but the waiting list will be long. If you are not entitled to free therapy or simply cannot wait for it, then you will need to look into a private service. Any health insurance plan you have may cover the costs in full, or part. However note that a healthcare insurer may direct you towards a therapist they choose.

Whilst costs vary, in the US the average costs of a face to face CBT session is $130. If you wish to see a licensed psychologist then this quickly rises to around $200.

Virtual therapy services are far more affordable. Different providers operate different models but most offer a weekly subscription service including 24/7 with prices ranging from $64 – $100. If you are on a budget, give them a try. You can find more about these in our guide to affordable therapy online.

Types of Therapy

There are many different therapeutic disciplines and each of them have branches and sub-practices within them. Rather than seek to provide a comprehensive list, we have instead ousted the 4 more most commonly kinds of basic therapy.

Psychotherapy (Talking Therapy)

Psychotherapy is simply the use of psychological techniques to try and alter a patient’s mental and emotional wellbeing. It is usually practiced in a 1 on 1 sessions format and commonly handled by a mental health professional. Note that unlike Psychiatry, physiotherapy does not involve the prescription of medication. If you want to try this online, Betterhelp is our top recommendation.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a goal orientated therapy which primarily aims to help patients alter their thought patterns to manage symptoms – for example, teaching usable techniques to de-escalate panic attacks.  

Whilst CBT is very effective in delivering measurable coping strategies, it does not necessarily seek to examine the underlying causes of a problem. Most online therapy sites specialize in CBT related treatments, but we feel does it the best.


Counselling typically follows the simple format of the therapist asking simple questions and letting the patient express themselves. This is actually the most common type of therapy largely because of the relatively lower criteria needed to practice it. However, Counselling is very effective for a lot of the more common “rough patch” mental health conditions such as stress, grief and relationship issues.

Mindfulness Based Therapy

Commonly used to treat depression, stress and addiction. The premise of mindfulness is helping patients to be “present” rather than escaping into traumatic past events of worrying about an uncertain future. 

If you are interested in mindfulness there are also a number of apps that can help teach it although it must be emphasized that an app is no substitute for finding a good therapist.

Summary - How To Find Counselling Services Near Me

Some experts would advise that if you can find and afford a local therapist then face to face treatment is better. However, if paying over thousands of dollars is just going to cause you more money worries then it can actually defeat the purpose. 

Online therapy is fast establishing itself as an effective way of delivering affordable treatment to a lot of patients. Ultimately, the only way to decide for yourself is to give it a try and with such low subscriptions, you have little to lose and so much peace of mind to gain. If you feel this might be a solid option for you – read our online therapy reviews first.