High intensity therapist

High intensity therapists provide cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). They work with clients who have a range of complex problems related to anxiety and depression.

This page has information on the role of a high intensity therapist, the entry requirements, skills and how to apply. 

Working life 

You'll treat people from different cultural backgrounds and ages. You'll assess a client's suitability for psychological interventions and formulate, implement and evaluate therapy programmes.

You'll also offer specialist advice and consultation to other professionals, individuals, and groups across mental health trusts, primary care trusts and other voluntary agencies regarding the practice and delivery of specific therapeutic models and service provision.

Where will I work?

You’ll be employed within Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) services, which may be within a clinical commissioning group, specialist mental health trust, the third or independent sector. You’ll work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as psychological wellbeing practitioners, employment advisors and other therapists and support staff. 

Entry requirements

You’ll need a registered qualification in one of the following areas: 

It is also possible to train as a high intensity therapist without one these qualifications but you’ll need to demonstrate your competency via a portfolio of evidence, which meets the criteria of the Knowledge Skills and Attitude (KSA) requirements of the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). Many primary care graduate mental health workers enter through this route.


You’ll need to undertake training on a specifically commissioned high intensity CBT course. The course consists of two days a week at university and three days supervised practice in the clinical setting over a 12 month period, leading to a post graduate diploma.

To access this training, you'll need to apply for a trainee high intensity therapist post (see the Job market and vacancies section below for details)

Skills and values needed

Good communication skills are essential to convey CBT and other psychological formulations, with sensitivity in easily understood language.

If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the values of the NHS Constitution apply in your everyday work. The same will be true if you are applying for a university course funded by the NHS. 

Find out more about NHS values

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