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High intensity therapist

High intensity therapists are part of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service and provide high intensity interventions - initially cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). They work with clients who have a range of complex problems related to anxiety and depression.

High intensity therapists treat people from different cultural backgrounds and ages. They assess a client's suitability for psychological interventions and formulate, implement and evaluate therapy programmes. Good communication skills are essential to convey CBT and other psychological formulations, with sensitivity in easily understood language.

Working as a high intensity therapist

High intensity therapists work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as psychological wellbeing practitioners (who deliver low intensity interventions), employment advisors and other therapists and support staff (this will vary according to the service), to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place to maintain a stepped care approach. They 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.

They will be employed within IAPT services across the country, which may be within primary care trusts, specialist mental health trusts, the third sector and the independent sector.

Skills and qualifications

High intensity therapists need to have a registered qualification in one of the following areas: nursing, clinical psychology, social work, occupational therapy or within a psychological therapy.

It is also possible for an individual without a core profession, such as a graduate primary care mental health worker, to access training. They will need to demonstrate their 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). Visit the BABCP website for more information about this process. 


People wishing to become high intensity therapists, will 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.

Applications for trainee posts need to be made to a IAPT service. Selection is carried out jointly between service and academic course providers. This results in an offer, which if successful, both a job and a training place are offered, as the training and supervised practice are combined.

Trainee vacancies can be found on the NHS Jobs website or may be advertised locally within newspapers or local job sites. Vacancies may also be advertised on charity websites, such as Mind, Rethink and Turning Point.

Pay for high intensity therapists

Trainees will be appointed at band 6 or band 7 under the Agenda for Change pay system, depending on their current psychological therapy expertise.

Further information

Further information about high intensity therapists can be found on the IAPT website or contact your local IAPT course provider or service.