How can I find a therapist? 

This section explains how to find: 

  • Therapy via the Hospital Authority
  • Charity therapists 
  • Therapists at your place of work or education 
  • Private therapists 

Things to ask when arranging an appointment with a therapist 

You may want to ask your therapist (or the person referring you for therapy) about: 

  • their background and qualifications 
  • the type of therapy they practice 
  • if they have a specialism (for example, some therapists specialise in working with particular issues or groups such as younger people, LGBTQ+ people, or survivors of abuse and violence) 
  • their experience of working with the problem you’re experiencing 
  • whether there is a waiting list and how long it will take you to get an appointment 
  • how long the therapy will last and what it will be like 
  • the benefits and risks involved 
  • what happens if you cancel or miss a session 
  • their confidentiality policy 
  • if you have a disability and need reasonable adjustments to make the sessions easier for you to attend. 

It’s also important to mention any special requirements or preferences you have. For example, if you’d feel most comfortable seeing a therapist of a particular gender, or who speaks your first language, or has a particular specialism.

“For me it took a couple of tries before I found the right therapist that I felt comfortable with.”

Seeking therapy via the public sector

Any therapy provided through the Hospital Authority should be low-cost or free of charge. The common routes to access talking therapies through the public sector are: 

  • Your family doctor. Your family doctor might refer you to a suitable service after speaking to you – that service will then get in touch with you. 
  • The ICCMW. All localities in Hong Kong contain an Integrated Community Centre for Mental Wellness, which is available to all residents in the local area. The staff here can assist people experiencing mental health problems to access the support they need via the public sector.
  • Self-referral. Some areas run services which you can contact directly to refer yourself for a talking therapy. Your family doctor might give you the number of a service you can call.
  • Clinical Psychology services provided by the Social Welfare Department. You can find a list of services offered here.

What if there are long waiting lists? 

Unfortunately it’s very common to have to spend time on a waiting list before getting therapy in the public sector. While you’re on a waiting list it might help to: 

  • Ask your doctor to give you a contact number to ring to check how long you have to wait. 
  • Explore any alternatives to therapy which might help in the meantime. 

Our page on seeking help gives more suggestions. 

MindHK is campaigning to make sure that everyone has access to talking therapies when they need them.

Charity therapists 

Some community and charity sector organisations may offer free or low-cost talking therapies. For example: 

Some charities also provide telephone listening and emotional support services. These are not counselling or therapy, but can be helpful if you need to talk to someone in between sessions. 

Therapists at your place of work or education 

  • If you’re a student – many colleges and universities have a free counselling service. You can usually access this without going through your academic tutors or family doctors. (See our pages on coping with student life for more information) 
  • If you’re an employee – your workplace might offer an Employee Assistance Programme which might provide a limited number of free therapy sessions. You can usually access this without going through your Manager, HR department or family doctor. (See our pages on coping with working life for more information) 

Private therapists 

There are many reasons you might consider seeking support from a private therapist, although it’s not an option for everyone because it can be expensive. If you decide to explore private therapy, it’s a good idea to look for a therapist using the online search function of a reliable website which only lists therapists who are registered with a professional body. For example: 

You can also do a search online to find local therapists who are practising independently. If you do this, be sure to check their credentials before commencing therapy. 

Before committing to paying for therapy it may be helpful to ask: 

  • How much do they charge per session? 
  • Do they offer a free consultation to allow you to decide whether you can work together? 
  • Do they offer reduced rates or sliding scale fees for people on lower incomes? 
  • Do they charge for missed appointments (and if yes, how much notice do you need to give them to avoid being charged)? 

See our page on private sector care for more information on paying for healthcare. 

Online or digital therapy 

You may find websites offering low cost therapy online. This can be helpful if you’re uncomfortable talking to someone in person, or if you have difficulty leaving the house or using transport. 

But some of these sites might not use professional therapists, so it’s important to ask enough questions to trust in the person you’re talking to. 


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