Why It's So Hard To Find A Good English-Speaking Therapist in Portugal

It's Not Surprising It's Difficult to Find An English Speaking Therapist in Portugal

If you are an expat in Portugal and are registered as a resident, you should have your healthcare número de utente.  This gives you access to healthcare services including mental health services via a referral from your GP.  You would thing this increases your chances of finding a local English speaking therapist, but it does not. There is a severe shortage of mental health professionals in Portugal, English or Portuguese speaking.

 A 2018 study in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems stated that Portugal is failing to live up to EU requirements for mental health care for its residents.

They follow more of a medical model where you can have a psychiatrist prescribe medication, but the waitlist for therapists can exceed 24 months.  There are 2.5 psychologists for every 100,000 persons living in Portugal. This forces many people to seek mental health treatment at private clinics where the insurance coverage and costs vary.

For reference, in 2021 a private practice therapist can charge 50-75 Euro per 50-minute session.

English speaking therapists in Portugal

Therapists in Portugal

Psychotherapy is not a regulated profession in Portugal — there are no restrictions on who can use the title “psychotherapist” — but there are professional bodies working throughout the country that provide lists of therapists and counselors who live up to certain requirements. Generally, a psychotherapist practicing in Portugal will be educated to at least an undergraduate level, with a degree in a relevant discipline such as psychology. Most will then have done a postgraduate course such as an MA in psychotherapy and counselling.

Stigma Surrounding Going to Therapy

Mental health stigma is alive and well in Portugal.  Most Portuguese, particularly the older generations, will suffer in silence rather than speak to a therapist or seek some other form of treatment. Portugal ranks very high globally for the number of people with depression, likely stemming from the lack of work opportunities.

Things About Portugal That Can Negatively Impact Mental Health

Once the allure of the vibrant culture wears off, many expats struggle with living in Portugal. Depressive and anxious tendencies can become problematic under these circumstances. Below is a list of common complaints expats have about the country.

  • Cost of Living – Portugal is often listed as “one of the most affordable countries in Europe.  The truth is, the cost of living is pretty high, especially in cities like Lisbon and Porto.
  • Unemployment – There is a high unemployment rate and it is difficult to find meaningful work.
  • Weather – It’s quite hot and dry in the summer.
  • Crime – Some areas can be quite dangerous.  The overall crime rate is relatively high.
  • Healthcare – The public healthcare system is overburdened and understaffed.  The wait times are very long.
  • Lack of commitment and professional pride – It is difficult to find any service that is provided on time and as requested.
  • Dirty streets – The Portuguese have no problem throwing everything out to the ground.
  • Chico-espertice”-  Many people are happy and proud to cheat other people.

Working with A Native English Speaking Therapist Provides a Comfort Zone Necessary When Discussing Personal Topics

Give yourself a break from the challenges of navigating Portugal’s systems and cultures.  Allow yourself to retreat into a safe space where you can care for your mental health in a way that feels authentic to you. Apricity’s online therapists provide a cultural and linguistic familiarity that will give you a sense of ease and comfort that’s necessary when discussing personal issues. Additionally, our therapists offer continuity of care independent of where you are living and flexible scheduling options. We have immediate availability and would love to work alongside you in your journey to mental and emotional well-being.