Working as a Therapist/Counsellor in France


In the UK after taking early retirement in 2000, I worked as a self-employed UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) Registered Psychotherapist. I continued my professional development by qualifying as a supervisor then after 8 years research in 2010 was awarded a Doctorate in Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy Practice.

Largely due to breaking my leg in April 2014 (ladder slipped when I was cleaning the roof of our Hymer-not such a clever clogs after all) I did little work that year. We also lived in our Hymer from September 2014, came to France in February 2015 and bought our house in 33540 in May 2015.

There is a question coming don't worry! A doctor asked for my card so he could refer ex-pats and there has been some interest shown elsewhere. I & my wife have state & organisational pensions. I do not think I can work as a psychotherapeute here since I am not a medical doctor or a psychologist. Were I to work as a counsellor/therapist I understand I would need to register as microentrepreneur, but is there another organisation with whom I would need to register? A fellow counsellor said the profession was not regulated here in France & we were 'under the radar' but I want to be sure.

Thanks for your help,


Thanks again Ley.

Your reply really cheered me up. Just had the sad news that an old friend, mentor & father-figure during my training died last July-Dr. Ken Evans. He was always SO alive. Since September 2014 we have been motorhome gypsies & our old email address died with the house sale so I guess that's why we never knew.

I am still a BACP member although I have now discovered that my sabbatical from UKCP only lasted 12 months & expired last October! Had I known I would have rejoined-oh well. They will advise & it seems like I may need to be 'signed for'-feels a bit like getting into a dodgy club!

I don't 'buy' more qualified-it was a research-based Doctorate of Psychotherapy Practice. The research was into the similarities & differences of 'madness' & 'spiritual experience' & part of the outcome was that the variety of steps on the bridge to recovery/healthier living included 'sanctuary'. Our 'sanctuary' proved to need the house & barn re-roofing, fosse-septique sorting, scrap wood in the barn burning, scrap metal to the dechetterie tomorrow & the courtyard concreting!!! I still dream of maybe offering short workshops called 'Growing Old Dis-Gracefully' & maybe Skype therapy or face to face if can get the outhouse sorted. So that's the creative dream.

Perhaps I need to awaken my inner Jack Russel to get this sorted & micro-entrepreneur maybe the way forward-grrr. (I needed him when I had to re-write my thesis)

Thanks again,


Hello Roger,

Strictly speaking to be truly professional as I'm sure you know, you need to be registered with something. Even a member of the BACP or similar would do I imagine. All I do is state clearly that I'm a member of the BACP ( all that requires is a yearly payment) and that I adhere to their code of practice / ethics etc and make a personal statement, mentioning insurance, supervision. CPD and personal objectives etc.

Counselling for Relate (Scotland) was easy as they did all the donkey work. I try to follow their example. It's not perfect and perhaps I am open to criticism but it has worked for me for the past few years here. I don't really counsel enough to make it a business. I only ever had one problem client who screamed at me for 4 hours as I tried to prevent her from driving home until I had calmed her down!!!! Apart from that all my clients have been lovely and only too pleased to be able to talk about their issues in a safe environment. As I said before, I choose my clients carefully and hope that will be enough to protect both them and me.

There are people who claim to be all sorts of things and they have no qualifications etc and seem to get away with it here in France. That's not for me. But on the other hand France isn't the easiest place to run a small business and you need to be creative. If your local doctor has faith in you and is prepared to send clients to you based on what you can show as evidence of your learning (you have a PhD after all and much more qualified than me), I don't see any problems for you to practice here.

An 'Association' seems to be the way forward if you want to be legal. A 'Micro-Entrepreneur' would be the way forward if you are under 65 and require health cover at the basic level. Maybe a look into the requirements of being a therapist under the Micro-Entrepreneur' regime may be an idea.

Like most things in France it can be very complicated but also the complications themselves make things possible. If you see what I mean?

Anyway, I wish you luck. Your help IS needed here in France and ultimately all you need to be is Non-judgmental, Congruent and Empathetic. As if you didn't know LOL.

Kind Regards


PS the Counselling in France website has been going for years and I'm sure they can help you with any worries you may have.

Thanks Ley,

I'd looked at that site-I guess I could email them.

I checked my status with UKCP yesterday. I asked to take a sabbatical in October 2014 because we were then living in our Hymer & the Ilizarov Frame round my broken leg was not pretty. I discovered that the sabbatical expired after a year & the bod in membership did not know what my next step might be to be added to the register. I have emailed them asking the question. I do need to discover whether i can still practise if I'm no longer on the UK register.

Thanks again,


Hi, you could visit for information and insurance. You can also register with them if you wish.

I am a Relate counsellor and I do work from time to time here in France. I am 'under the radar' as you put it as is just about everyone else I have ever come across. I am very careful about choosing my clients. I have supervision over the phone from the UK. Insurance can be expensive -AXA will offer it at a price.

If you wanted to register then it would be through a micro-enterprise or as an 'Association'. The counsellinginfrance website has all the information. Good luck.


Ley Thompson



As a follow-up to what I wrote I am a micro-entrepreneur profession libérale using Valerie Lemiere of "Start Business in France" to get the siren.

I am wondering about 2 letters I have had:

1. From Malakoff Mederic that I trust I can ignore-'Pension business & the protection of business & employees'. I do not have employees & have UK pensions that are fine.

2. From Direction Generale Des Finances Publique that looks more 'official'. It says the 'Objest de votre activitée professionelle'. It says their staff can help me create a professional dossier. There is a questionnaire on the back concerning my fiscal obligations regarding BIC, TVA, CFE & RCM, payment & getting some sort of tax certificate. They are offering to help with this presumably for a fee!

I have just started & have no income from online counselling yet.

In simple terms what tax commitments do I have? I know I have to declare income-when I have any.



If you're paying Valérie for advice, shouldn't you be asking her ;-)

Regarding the first, I believe that technically you're supposed to send it back stating that you have no employees. However, I didn't know this at the time so I put it in the bin, and never heard any more about it. Probably on a computer somewhere, there is a box sitting there blank.

Regarding the second, as a micro you are not involved in TVA so I don't think it has been personalised for you, it sounds more like a circular they send to everyone. As for the rest, I guess it's up to you - if you're confident you don't need help or if you don't think they're the right people to help you, I would put that in the bin too. If you think a professional dossier sounds nice, well why not :-)

I would add though that if you had your business set up for you rather than do it yourself and you're not intending to be very hands-on on the business side, you do need to have some plan for ongoing support. It's a simple system but it doesn't completely run itself, there are certain things you need to keep tabs on actively. For instance certain processes such as CFE are completely dematerialised, ie online only; you don't receive a paper bill, the bill is made available online, so when the time comes - which it won't until next year if you've only just set up - you will need to know that it's there and you'll need to access it and pay it online by the deadline, otherwise penalties will be applied. If this is the sort of thing DGFIP is offering to help you with, you might want to see how much it costs - you never know it might be free.

Thanks Anna,

I could ask her a question on her online site-just thought I'd check the experience of others on here first. So thanks for your quick reply. We've used an English lady to sort the paperwork to get into the French tax system, although she's on hols at the moment.

May sound strange but when I first left school many years ago I was a clerk articled to a Chartered Accountant & hated it. Before we retired here I worked from home as a Doctor of Psychotherapy Practice & used a local accountant to sort my accounts & taxes despite friends & colleagues saying it was so easy to complete the tax-return myself & a lot cheaper!

However, I do what I enjoy doing & get paid & pay others to do what I dislike still.

I think I will just file the letters pro tem & see what happens if anything, then when I get some clients do some more research.

All the very best & thanks for taking the time to reply.