Life as a CBT Therapist: What CBT is, How you can access it & Why it can help

This week Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, Mental health blogger & Podcaster Sarah Rees writes for ECBC. Sarah discusses what CBT therapy is, how you can access CBT and why it is helping people living with a mental illness.

Hello! I’m very excited to write a blog for ECBC and support all the great work that they are doing in raising awareness around mental health issues and in tackling the loneliness and isolation, which mental health problems so often bring.

Being a Manchester based therapist, it’s also great to support a local independent project because let’s face it, this work is really tough and not very sexy so we can feel like lone voices at times.

So who am? I’m Sarah Rees, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist working in private practice full time. I’m also a mental health nurse and have worked all around Manchester over the years in the NHS previously. Currently I see individuals in clinic Tuesday – Friday and when I’m not in clinic I write about all things mental health in my blog, I have a monthly podcast called ‘Ask the Therapist’, I have a you-tube channel where I do short videos on CBT, journaling, therapy and mental health. I’m also author of The CBT Journal which is available on my website.

As I write all that down I’m a little bit busy! Thankfully I love my work it really is a passion for me so there’s not much that feels like hard work.

There’s so much I could write about but I thought it would be most useful to give you a bit more insight into what CBT is, how it works in the private sector and a little bit about the mission I’m on to raise awareness around mental health.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has become hugely popular over the last decade. This is for a number of reasons, firstly it’s because CBT as a therapy has been well researched so what we do in therapy sessions has a good evidence base which means it’s been tried, tested and proven. It’s in the NICE guideline as the most effective treatment for a wide range of mental health problems, which means that General Practitioners will prioritise recommending it. Alongside this the government has promoted and invested in improving the access to CBT so more therapists have been trained in recent years and waiting times for therapy are hopefully reducing.

I became a CBT therapist because as a Mental Health Nurse the focus was mainly on medication and while they are helpful, medications are one part of what gets people better, medication is produced for the masses and we are all uniquely individual so treatments for mental health problems need to reflect this and therapy I feel is the best platform.

I was drawn to CBT because of how effective it is and delivering CBT has not let me down, most people I see do very well and learn strategies and ways of coping that are life transforming.

CBT is a structured type of therapy which is goal focused were you work collaboratively with your therapist. We look at identifying patterns of thinking and doing that are unhelpful and work to build in more helpful patterns, the philosophy that underpins CBT is that our thoughts impact how we think and what we do which in turn creates the life we live, so getting the patterns right creates a life we love. For more information have a read of –

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy ?

If you think CBT might be the right therapy for you then you can ask your GP to refer you or you can self refer to your local primary care mental health service and ask to be placed on the waiting list.

If you want to go down the private therapy route then there are a number of benefits for instance your number of sessions won’t be restricted as they are in the NHS often to 6 or 8 sessions they will depend on what you need. Waiting times are much shorter, you can have top up sessions when you need and days and times can be arranged to suit you. Often you will have more access to your therapist in-between sessions if needed via email for example to ask questions

There are some things to be aware of though unfortunately there are many therapist claiming to be CBT trained who are not actually sufficiently trained or are not maintaining their qualifications; also there is a cost and this varies for a number of reasons it can be difficult to know what you are looking for, I have put together a blog that can guide you further here.

It was a really tough decision for me to leave the NHS especially being a nurse I really had thought I’d never leave, but I’d spent many years there and it’s a service in crisis that was taking its toll on me. I struggled with the amount of sessions people received when they often would have benefited from more, the politics of the service was difficult to navigate and I was working in a team were people were burnt out and stressed. I thought I’d give it a go in private practice for a year and see what happens and I’ve never looked back.

One thing that working in private practice has given me is the ability to work in much more creative ways individually with people and as a business. I have been able to open the door more to the therapy room by blogging, which I was rubbish at due to many years of only writing medical notes! However, I am improving and I really enjoy it. I then created ‘The CBT Journal’ which is a downloadable self help tool on my website, where people also get access to coaching emails to keep them motivated and a Facebook group so I can help more people that just the individuals that come to see me. I also saw the need for a tool to help people start CBT without the full commitment of attending sessions and we know that the more people do in between sessions the better the results are so it is a good way to encourage people to begin investing some time into themselves and their mental health just as we do our physical health.

All the work I’ve done has led me to thinking that there is so much more that goes on in the therapy room that could be talked about and I also was aware that so many people think therapists have got it all together! This is a myth that needs busting, we do not have it together at all. Also how intimidating to consider going to see someone when you are at a really tough time in your life who is Ms or Mr perfect! A podcast seemed like the perfect answer and next step to help people meet therapist or hear from people who have had therapy and what it’s really like. For me I’ve found it a great way to connect with so many different people and be noisy / therapeutically curious because aren’t ‘us’ humans just fascinating! The podcast is something I really enjoy doing and the feedback has been great which keeps me motivated.

I think one of the biggest things that being a therapist has given me is true sense of common humanity that life is really tough and we are all in it together. It’s a struggle and we all have the same minds wired in the same way and are experiencing similar struggles. We put on a social mask tricking everyone into thinking we are ok but we all have our stories to tell – however we look, whatever our careers, or how much money we have or don’t have.

It’s helped me be much more compassionate to my own struggles and to get help for myself when I need it and to see beyond a social mask and be more compassionate outwardly to others.

I hope you have found this blog helpful and I hope I have added a little something to the mission of ECBC and you feel a little less isolated or lonely with your experiences. Therapy is for the many not the few. Mental health may have a stigma but It’s getting old fashioned to think this way. Modern mental health is about us all taking time for our own mental health and being more compassionate towards others. Wherever you are in your journey I hope you take some time for you mind because our minds matter.

If you have enjoyed this blog and would like to take the next step you can visit my website and download the free guide ‘To Building Emotional Resilience’ which will help you create a solid foundation of well-being today and you will received my monthly newsletter which provides a round up of all the things I’ve watched, read or listened too each month along with mental health advise and tips.

You can follow Sarah on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. All pictures featured today have been provided by Sarah’s Instagram and belong to Sarah.

A massive thank you to Sarah for taking the time to write for us, it’s fantastic to be able to talk to a professional about ways of seeking help. Please follow Sarah for more information, guidance and lovely content. You can also listen to her monthly podcast.

If you have experienced CBT therapy or have any queries or concern please comment below or contact us via our social media channels.

7 thoughts on “Life as a CBT Therapist: What CBT is, How you can access it & Why it can help”

  1. Awesome and detailed post, I will be make sure to inform my friends and family about this and recommend them to read your post. Thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a wonderful post! I wish CBT was available to more people because it’s amazing. I did a CBT course years ago and my husband did one 4 years ago. We both often talk about our experience of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Having someone to help you understand aspects of yourself that puzzle you is helpful! One of the things I love about having support is that it gives you the freedom to talk when otherwise you might have held yourself back. Putting everything out into the open is one of the best ways to find solutions. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A great post from Sarah about the life of a CBT therapist. Individualised care is a must thank you for all your hard and valuable work 💚

    Liked by 1 person

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