Thoughts & Experience

The Day-to-Day Life of a CBT Therapist: Why I became a Therapist and What I have learnt so far

ECBC spoke to Sarah, a CBT therapist based in Manchester about her organisation Green Door therapy and how she is trying to help those living with a mental illness in and around Manchester.

Hello! I am Sarah and I founded Green Door Therapy last year. I am based in Prestwich, Manchester.

How did Green Door Therapy come about?

Honestly – burnout. I’ve been working in the NHS for fifteen years, ten of those as a cognitive behavioural therapist. I love the NHS; the massive increase in access to therapy in the past 10 years is an amazing achievement. However, the powers that be can forget that therapists are people too.

After hitting burnout twice, and working with my own therapist, I realised that my wellbeing was worth prioritising. To do this, I dropped some hours and opened a private practice offering individual therapy to anyone who is experiencing difficulties with anxiety, PTSD, and depression.
It was important to me to step back and give myself the time to build the practice, rather than adding it on top of a full time job. I am aiming to bring my life in line with my thinking. Often therapists can spend their days helping others break out of unhelpful cycles, behaviours, patterns, but fall in to those traps themselves. This is going to sound so cheesy, but it’s about trying to live authentically I suppose.

As a result, I am working to build a practice that fits my values. For example, I’ve sought to work directly with individuals, not companies, as I want clients to be in charge of their own treatment rather than be dictated to about the scope of the work or number of sessions.

What inspired the name behind the organisation?

The front door to my house is green, and that’s where the name first sprung from. I’d gone through so many possible names, even polling friends on Facebook. However this one felt right from the start. Green is a gender neutral colour which I felt was important, and doorways are so full of wonderful metaphors (and I LOVE a good metaphor) – an opening, and opportunity, moving from one space to another, the threshold of something different, which is exactly what therapy can provide.

What happens in your day to day life?

Fridays are my clinic days. I offer cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy mainly. The EMDR therapy is specifically for treating difficulties such as post traumatic stress disorder, and is one of my specialist areas.
Sessions are about 50 minutes long, and could cover a whole range of issues depending who I am seeing.

Cognitive behavioural therapy can be pretty creative, so along with helping someone make links between their thoughts and feelings, we might also be designing a practical experiment to test some of the ideas out.

For example, someone who is experiencing social anxiety may believe that if they stumble over their words that people will laugh at them. So, we test it out, and might send them in to a coffee shop purposefully get them to stumble over their order and mess it up just to see what happens – do people actually laugh? (spoiler: I’ve done this, and they don’t).

What are your thoughts on the mental health services today?

This is a tricky question. Has there been a huge investment in increasing access to psychological therapies – undeniably yes. However, there have also been huge cuts to secondary care services, including bed and ward closures.

This means that those with more complex needs and diagnoses have less support. Some of those will then be signposted to psychotherapy services that are not appropriate for their needs because there is no other support available. This increases the waiting lists for everyone, so while support is available, the waiting times can be intolerable. If you look at more specialist areas such as child and adolescent mental health services or eating disorders the waits are even worse.
In this country we are incredibly lucky to have access to the NHS and free treatment, and I know from experience the level of skill, compassion and dedication within mental health teams. The problem is the lack of resources given to these services to provide high quality care in timely manner. I hope with ongoing work to raise awareness about mental health issues that there will be a push to better fund these services.

Where do you see Green Door Therapy in the the future?

Sometimes I feel like I have no ideas and then at other times I feel like I want to do too many things! I’m still in the early stages of growing my practice and I want to get grounded before I take off on another project. I do enjoy delivering training – I could see workshops in my future.

Green Door Therapy is based at the Prestwich Holistic Centre on Mather Avenue. You can visit the website for further contact information and to subscribe to Sarah’s blog. Sarah also has instagram and was recently a guest on the ‘Ask The Therapist’ podcast, hosted by Sarah Rees – available here.

We would like to thank Sarah for her time. All pictures used in this post belong to Sarah and are on her Instagram page.

6 thoughts on “The Day-to-Day Life of a CBT Therapist: Why I became a Therapist and What I have learnt so far”

  1. What a wonderful post! Thank you highlighting Sarah and Green Door Therapy. I didn’t think that therapists could experience burnout (though, of course that makes sense), and I’m glad Sarah took the initiative to take care of herself so she can provide better care for her patients. Good for her!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Working all this year, it must something turn a therapist to an expert of just learning from experience. That’s lovely reading about Sarah’s experience with the green Therapist.

    Liked by 1 person

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