There are lots of reasons people choose to go private for therapy but sometimes affordability is a barrier. Here are 5 ways you may be able to get access to therapy for free.


A great starting point for all healthcare, whether physical or mental health is the NHS. The NHS provides different level of mental health support and treatment, from mental health nurses in GP surgeries to inpatient care. NHS therapy services are known as IAPT (Improved Access to Psychological Therapies) and the most common therapy provided is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This is because CBT has the largest evidence base for successfully treating common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. You need to be registered with a GP to be able to access these services. You can find information about your local service here: Local NHS Therapy Services.


You may be able to access therapy through a Private Medical Insurance (PMI) policy. The number of sessions vary across the providers and the level of cover will depend on the kind of policy you want. My experience is that anywhere between 6 & 20 sessions can be authorised. It’s worth noting that

health insurance policies tend to be underwritten which means that they can exclude conditions you’ve received treatment for already. However, this can depend on when this was and also your policy type so it is worth checking.

We work with Bupa, Axa & Aviva and can provide therapy within your policy cover.

Workplace Wellbeing

Many larger employers offer employee benefits that can include Private Medical Insurance (PMI). As outlined above, this often includes access to therapy. Something lesser known is that your company may also offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). This usually includes support and advice services around finances, legal matters and mental health. The level of mental health support can vary depending on the provider but this often includes access to a fixed number of counselling sessions.

University, College and School

Universities, colleges and schools have a duty of care to support the wellbeing of their students. Most universities have a wellbeing service that may include a GP practice and access to free therapy. Colleges and schools may have an in-house counsellor. If you’re a student, it’s worth finding about what support services your place of study offers and how to access them should you need it.


Some charities offer talking therapies for free or on a subsidised sliding scale. Information about finding local mental health support is provided by the NHS, including the option to search for charities by location and need via the Hub of Hope.

We hope this gives you a range of options to consider. And if you choose to go private, you can always reach out to us at Brighter Minds.

If you found this helpful, you might also like:
Talking to Your GP about Mental Health
Guide to Accessing Therapy