High intensity therapist

High intensity therapists equip people with the tools and techniques they need to overcome complex problems related to anxiety and depression.  

Working as a high intensity therapist is a rewarding career and you will have the opportunity to make a difference to people's wellbeing and quality of life by providing a range of evidence-based interventions.

Working life 

As a high intensity therapist in NHS Talking Therapies, you will work with adults from a variety of backgrounds.

You’ll usually work with them on an individual face-to-face basis or through facilitating therapeutic groups. You will work with service users with depression and anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A large part of your role will be to assess a service user’s suitability for evidence-based psychological interventions, formulating and implementing treatment and evaluating progress.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most common intervention offered within NHS Talking Therapies, but you may use a range of other high-intensity psychological interventions, including:

  • interpersonal psychotherapy for depression 
  • couples therapy for depression
  • brief dynamic interpersonal therapy
  • counselling for depression
  • mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
  • behavioural couples therapy 

You'll be formally trained in the therapy or therapies that you deliver in NHS Talking Therapies and will have a professional accreditation from the relevant professional body. 

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

You will receive regular clinical supervision to support your work. You may also provide supervision to other members of the team. 

Gareth Stephens

High intensity cognitive behavioural therapist
Seeing people change their lives for the better and knowing I’ve helped them do that is the best part of my job.

Where will I work?

You’ll be employed as part of a team within an NHS Talking Therapies service, which may be within

  • integrated care systems
  • a specialist mental health trust
  • the third or independent sector

You’ll work alongside psychological wellbeing practitioners and other clinicians who deliver evidence-based psychological therapies in NHS Talking Therapies as well as employment advisers, GPs and support staff in both GP surgeries and community centres. 

You will work independently with service users and closely with other healthcare professionals, managing referrals and signposting to other agencies. 

Skills and values needed

The role can be demanding but it is also hugely rewarding. High intensity therapists meet with service users regularly, usually weekly, to measure and review progress, and tailor treatment accordingly. As a high intensity therapist, you’ll have experience of working with people with mental health conditions and will need to use a range of clinical, organisational and leadership skills on a daily basis, including:

  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • empathetic listening skills
  • ability to remain solution-orientated
  • ability to work well in a fast paced, challenging environment
  • ability to provide supervision
  • ability to participate in shared decision making
  • a critical understanding of the phenomenology, diagnostic classifications and epidemiological characteristics for all conditions seen in IAPT
  • a critical understanding of the current, evidence-based pharmacological and psychological treatment for all conditions seen in IAPT
  • ability to identify triggers, patterns of avoidance and safety-seeking behaviours
  • the use of standard and idiosyncratic measures to evaluate outcomes with CBT
  • ability to develop formulation and use this to develop treatment plans/case conceptualisation

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

Find out about the entry requirements and training to be a high intensity therapist

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