Cognitive behavioural therapist

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

Annual Salary

£26,500 to £41,500

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 43

Future employment

There will be 5% more Cognitive behavioural therapist jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

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.

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).

£26,500 to £41,500

Starter salary: £26,500

Experienced salary: £31,500

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.

38 to 43

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

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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are 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
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