• Sam O'Sullivan

How to find and fund a therapist


When seeking help it can be hard to know where to begin, so we’ve written a step by step process to support you to find and fund a therapist.

Consider your funding options

1. Self-Funded

If you, or a generous support person, has enough money then private therapy will be easily accessible for you. It ranges from around $70-200 per 1-hour session. Therapists with more training and experience tend to charge more, which means highly trained professionals like Clinical Psychologists generally start at about $150 per session.

2. Public Health Organisation (PHO)

One option is to talk to your General Practitioner about PHO funding. Your PHO may be able to offer up to 6 fully funded sessions with a Clinical Psychologist. They may recommend specific therapists, but we suggest comparing the recommendations to other options to ensure you find the right fit.



3. Disability Allowance, Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ)

Another option is to apply for the Disability Allowance through WINZ, which will need to be signed off by your GP and therapist. This partially funds the costs of a therapist (maximum of $64.29 per week). You can receive this funding for 10 sessions and then reapply, so it is a good option if you need longer-term support. More info: https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/disability-allowance.html

4. Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)

ACC can fully fund counselling and therapy sessions if you’ve experienced sexual violence. If you need counselling after a physical injury then they can help pay for up to ten sessions. More info: https://www.acc.co.nz/im-injured/support-recovery/counselling-therapy

5. Employment Support


Increasingly workplaces are offering fully funded therapy for their employees, so check with the appropriate colleague or manager about your options.






6. Student Support

Your tertiary provider may offer free or subsidised counselling, so check in with the appropriate staff member about your options.

7. Charitable Agency

A local charity may be able to offer funding for counselling, so it could be useful to research the charitable organisations in your area and enquire if funding is available.


Consider the Type of Therapy


There are several different types of therapists out there and each takes a unique approach. If you’re struggling to find one on your own then try enlisting the help of a mate.

1. Counsellor

A well-trained counsellor will facilitate change through listening and helping you see what’s happening to you. Counsellors are generally less focused on giving advice than some therapists. They do not have to be registered with government, so ensure that any counsellor you are considering is registered with an association that is monitoring their competence. The largest association is the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) - you can check if someone is a Member of NZAC online at: https://www.nzac.org.nz/.org.nz

2. Psychotherapist

Psychotherapists provide an opportunity to understand who you are and how to make sense of your experiences and relationships to others. They generally seek to understand the effect of early trauma and relationships. This approach can take time, but it can be worth it to heal deep wounds from your past. They must be registered by the government through The Psychotherapists Board of Aotearoa New Zealand: www.pbanz.org.nz 3. Psychologist

Psychologists listen and seek to make sense of people’s emotional and psychological problems. They offer practical tools to help people make change in their lives and support the processing of underlying trauma through supporting the modification of unhelpful belief systems. They must be registered through the New Zealand Psychologists Board and hold a current Annual Practising certificate: www.psychologistsboard.org.nz

A Clinical Psychologist has specialist training in mental health through a university programme that involves internships with different clinics. There are two useful search engines for finding an appropriate Clinical Psychologist in your area:


4. Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors who primarily prescribe medications and work with patients on medication management over a course of treatment. Some Psychiatrists also offer talking therapy, but it is less common and generally an expensive option. They must be registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand: https://www.mcnz.org.nz


Other Search Engines

Once you have a feel for the type of therapist you want then we suggest that you try one of the following search engines: Clearhead is a up-and-coming platform in New Zealand that makes it easy to search for a therapist. It also connects you to useful resources and has tools for tracking your mood and goal setting. https://www.clearhead.org.nz

Talking Works is a well established “find a counsellor” website in New Zealand, which includes different professions. https://www.talkingworks.co.nz


Find the right fit for you


It is really important to find a therapist who is the right fit for you because talking therapy works a lot better when you feel a strong connection to the person supporting you.

1. Try using the search engines above, ask friends and family for recommendations, or do your own independent research.

2. It’s important to consider specialty when looking at the different types of therapists available. Some therapists focus on certain age groups and specific areas of mental health, such as anxiety, depression, pain, addiction etc. It can be useful to find someone who focuses on the specific challenges you are facing, but it’s not absolutely necessary if you’re not sure what speciality is appropriate.

3. Narrow down your possibilities to a minimum of 3 options and give each therapist a brief call to ask a few questions. It’s easier to judge your fit with someone when you talk to them over the phone. Keep in mind that most therapists have a waitlist, so it’s useful to have a few options lined up.

4. If the fit doesn’t feel right in the first session then try another therapist. You don’t need to justify this to them, if they’re a good therapist then they should understand the importance of your connection with them.


Book it in

Now all you have to do is book in your first session and show up on time. It can be a little anxiety provoking to go see a therapist at first, but the reality is generally a caring person in a comfortable setting. The more you open up the more they can help you.

It’s important to trust the process as sometimes it takes time before it helps and things can get harder before they get better. Good luck on your healing journey!

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