As the number of private CBT clinics and providers continues to increase in response to the demand for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, how can you ensure that you are getting good value for money?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) continues to set the gold standard in the treatment of anxiety conditions and mood disorders. CBT is highly effective in the treatment of short and long-term problems, providing good psychological insight into the causes of the problem and practical strategies for supporting sustainable change.
The research evidence demonstrates that CBT delivers good therapeutic outcomes in a relatively short period of time. It is therefore highly popular in both the NHS and private practice and is the NICE treatment of choice for a wide range of psychological problems.
Whilst CBT can be accessed free of charge via the NHS “Improving Access to Psychological Therapies” (IAPT) services, waiting times can range from six to sixteen weeks, extending into several months for specialist CBT treatment or child and adolescent therapy.
Private CBT therefore provides a fast and flexible way of accessing good therapy with the added advantage of choosing the specific therapist that you want to work with.
The problem is that there are literally thousands of therapists offering CBT and wide variations in quality and price. So finding the right therapist and ensuring good value for money can feel complicated and confusing.
In this article, we offer some guidance on how to judge good value for money and some pointers to help select the right Cognitive Behavioural Therapist.
How Much Should You Expect to Pay for Private CBT?
The cost of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) typically depends on the qualifications, experience, success rates, commercial orientation, location and availability of the therapist. In our survey of 46 accredited CBT providers operating in the UK we found CBT costs ranging from £45 to £250 depending on the size, accreditation status, location and commercial orientation of the private provider.
We also found that the CBT costs of services provided by the same therapists often varied significantly depending on the organisation or platform through which their services were offered.
It’s therefore difficult to establish a clear benchmark for good quality CBT, however we found that clients should generally expect to pay £70-£95 for one-to-one CBT appointments with a qualified and BABCP accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.
Where Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is provided by larger commercial organisations via subcontracting arrangements, the cost of CBT is inflated to cover organisational overheads and profit margins. We looked at fifteen popular / well-known private CBT providers in the UK and calculated a mean average of £117.60. The range was £75-£146 for a standard 50 minute daytime appointment. There were no discernible differences in the therapists or services offered within this price range; indeed many therapists worked across several private providers.
How Many CBT Sessions Will be Required?
To understand the costs of private CBT, clients also need to know how many sessions may be required. The number of CBT sessions will vary depending on the presenting problem, the client’s therapy goals and the level of complexity. Most anxiety and mood conditions can be treated within 6-16 sessions and the CBT process should always follow an agreed therapy plan. Our advice is to budget for a minimum of eight CBT sessions and agree the therapy plan following the initial appointment.
Value for Money
CBT is not a protected profession in the UK and the qualifications and credentials of therapists varies significantly from medically trained psychiatrists to untrained individuals offering CBT with superficial online training only. Whilst it’s reasonable to assume that individual’s with wider or more in-depth psychological training will charge more than unqualified therapists, this is not always a reliable gage for assessing good value for money. Higher charges are frequently driven by the therapist’s pricing policy rather than qualifications, credentials and experience.
Quality Assurance Standards
The recognised UK benchmark for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is set by the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP). Accreditation with the BABCP ensures that the individual has achieved a post-graduate specialist qualification in CBT, demonstrated competency in assessed clinical practice, committed to ongoing CBT supervision and undertakes regular and relevant professional development.
It’s therefore important to check the accreditation status of your Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy provider. Whilst there are non-accredited therapists with the relevant qualifications and clinical experience, attempting to objectively assess CBT qualifications and clinical experience can be a minefield. BABCP accreditation provides an established quality assurance standard that is universally recognised across the health, legal and insurance industries.
Whilst there are many examples of counselling businesses offering cheaper CBT, these services are often operating well below the recognised threshold set by the BABCP. We found that over 70% of “therapists” returning results for CBT during 20 randomised psychology and counselling directory searches had no formal CBT qualifications and were registered as counsellors or psychotherapists. It’s not unusual for therapists from other approaches to offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with limited CBT training.
There are also many private businesses and individuals advertising as CBT providers without recognised CBT credentials. There are training organisations offering CBT diplomas in as few as eight hours online training and a number of private businesses claiming recognition with spurious accreditation bodies registered via the complementary health industry.
In the UK, the only recognised professional body for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the BABCP. This is not to be confused with the BACP; a counselling body that does not accredit Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists.
You can check the CBT accreditation status of your therapist by visiting https://www.cbtregisteruk.com/ You can also use www.cbtpages.com to find independent Cognitive Behavioural Therapists and Practitioner Psychologists with CBT specialisms.
In the final analysis, the real question should be what constitutes good value for money. To help with this, we have offered the following points as a check-list for securing the right therapist at the right price.
1. Is the CBT psychotherapist qualified and accredited by the BABCP?
2. Does the therapist have specific experience of working with the presenting problem?
3. Will the therapist follow the published evidence-base in determining the treatment approach?
4. Will there be agreed treatment timescales and a structured therapy plan?
5. Will therapy goals be used to set direction and monitor progress?
6. Is there a formal feedback process to refine the approach and address issues during the course of therapy?
7. Will there be a lapse or resilience plan at the end of therapy?
8. Can I establish a good interpersonal working relationship with this therapist?
About Think CBT
Think CBT is an independent network of BABCP accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists working across the UK. we operate on a commercially ethical basis. This means that we strike a fair balance between client charges and the market rate for good quality CBT. Our operating model is driven by our commitment to providing the highest standards of CBT at an affordable price. Our standard daytime charges are £75 and evenings and weekend appointments are £85. We charge less as we keep our overheads to an operational minimum without exploiting the commercial gap between the therapist and the client. Many of our associate team members choose to work with us because of our commercially ethical position and our commitment to working in the joint interests of the client and therapist.
You can find out more about our approach by visiting www.thinkcbt.com
The content of this article expresses the author’s opinion and does not represent the position of any other professional body.