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Cognitive behavioural therapist CBT, talking therapist, behavioural therapist

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) practitioners use talking therapy to help patients change negative patterns of thinking or behaviour.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £26,500 to £41,500 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 38 to 43 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • a degree in nursing, social work, occupational therapy, arts therapy, psychology or psychotherapy
  • experience of working in mental health
  • an accredited postgraduate qualification in CBT

The British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy have information on CBT courses.

Health Careers has information on working as a therapist in the NHS.

To work with children and vulnerable adults, you'll need a background check from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • excellent communication and listening skills
  • empathy and the ability to deal with people in distress
  • problem solving and decision making skills
  • IT skills for recording information
  • report writing and presentation skills

3. What you'll do

You'll work with clients who have mental health difficulties like anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or panic disorders. You'll help them change the way they think and act.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • assessing clients to see if they'll benefit from CBT
  • discussing therapy plans with clients, focusing on what they want to change
  • encouraging clients to talk about feelings and behaviour
  • setting 'homework' for clients to do
  • helping clients practise the changes you've discussed
  • providing group sessions
  • checking clients' progress
  • providing advice to other health professionals
  • talking to family members
  • keeping accurate records
  • following data protection and confidentiality rules

In the NHS, you'll work with other professionals like psychiatrists, other therapists, social workers and mental health nurses.

4. Salary

Starter: £26,500

Experienced: £31,500

Highly Experienced: up £41,500

Salary levels for jobs outside the NHS will be different. If you work as a private therapist you'll usually charge between £30 and £80 an hour.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work from an office or consultation room. You may also visit clients in their homes.

You could work in a:

  • GP surgery, health centre or clinic
  • hospital
  • prison
  • community mental health team

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could supervise other CBT practitioners.

You could also set up your own practice, working as an independent practitioner and seeing patients privately.

You could also specialise in teaching or research for a college or university.

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Last updated: 14 September 2017