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Clinical Corner Q&A: Being a CBT therapist, with Adenekan Oyefeso

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What’s it like to work as a CBT therapist for Europe’s leading digital healthcare provider? We asked Livi Clinical Lead for Mental Health, Adenekan Oyefeso. In our latest Clinical Corner Q&A, Adenekan shares his experiences of providing online therapy and what attracted him to work for Livi.

Q: Tell us about yourself and your background?

AO: I've been a clinical psychologist for 30 years. Previously I served as a clinical consultant psychologist at St George's Medical School, where I was a lecturer before I transitioned to clinical work. Since then, I've worked in many different areas of mental health, supporting people with mild to severe mental health problems, as well as issues like addiction, learning disabilities and autism. All of my different specialty placements have allowed me to apply CBT principles to help people make a positive change.

Q: Tell us how you came to join Livi?

AO: I heard about Livi’s service offering primary care and mental health support via video. In all the clinics I had been involved with, I had used online platforms and I was quite keen to get involved because I wanted to understand more about online work. During the pandemic, using online platforms to see patients worked well. So, I wanted to work with Livi to not only help launch the mental health programme, but also learn from it. Historically, I had a long history of setting up services, so this was a great opportunity.

Q: What attracted you to Livi?

AO: The digital aspect, because of the potential to reach lots of people. Access to mental health services is one of the big problems we have in the UK. There are so many people out there who need professional help, but there is a long waiting list. In the time it takes from referral to actually seeing a therapist, two things can happen for a patient. They lose interest or things get worse. And if it gets worse, they may end up in A&E and secondary services. In extreme cases, some people attempt suicide. If you've got something that can improve access to mental health support, I'm very much for that. That’s what Livi is all about.

Q: What made you want to study psychology?

AO: I always enjoyed studying people. I was very curious about how people think, what they say, what they do, why they behave in that way. The question is, why are people different? I found out that there's something called psychology, which is basically about learning about new behaviours, controlling or modifying them, encouraging good behaviour and rewarding it. So I thought, oh, that's interesting. Since then, I haven't looked back. Every day there’s a different scenario that you can learn from and you can help others with it.

Q: How diverse is your caseload working in a remote capacity?

AO: There are quite a range of people. People in their twenties right up to sixty all with different problems. While we focus on common mental health problems, like depression and anxiety, some have family issues, problems with self-confidence or worry in jobs. That's the interesting thing about the CBT work that we are doing at Livi. It’s always different. And as a service arranged directly by the patient, they can just dial in.

Q: What positives does digital working offer?

AO: It's more convenient for the client to see you from their front room and it gives them the confidence to take that step forward. Many people are afraid of going to a therapist as it’s always a daunting thing to show anxiety. This may stop people from seeking help in person. With digital, you also don't have to leave the house or drive anywhere. It’s the same for the therapist. I can see a client wherever it's convenient for them in a safe and private environment. So that's the advantage.

Q: Do you find patients tend to relax more in remote consultations?

AO: Yes. Our service allows people to choose when they would like to see a therapist. This is a person-centred programme that empowers the client to take control. They might see you today and say, well, I won't be available next week but I'll see you in two week’s time. They can then book that appointment themselves. That ownership of the consultation helps the person as well in their treatment. It makes them more committed because they are choosing what is convenient for them.

Q: Digital appointments probably help with attendance as well?

AO: Exactly and Livi gives a lot of control to the client. There's no power imbalance. We’re here to make it easier by giving the client a choice of when and where they see us. With face-to-face appointments, if people do not attend, it puts further strain on health services. They may have waited six months to get an appointment but if they do not turn up, it's just a never-ending cycle. Or, the situation can escalate where that person no longer wants to even speak to someone for help.

Q: How easy have you found this new way of working?

AO: It makes access and service easier. It reduces rushing around to your clinic and so on. You can use the time you would be usually travelling to finalise your notes and all of that. Yes, there are pros and cons of course, but I think for those who are interested in innovation and providing care, it's a very good platform. Livi also has a good infrastructure in place and the support for therapists is very good. There is a community manager available to help and an admin team too.

Q: How has Livi benefitted your work-life balance?

AO: Livi is very convenient for me and flexible. I have more time to do other things, like go for a walk. It’s much more relaxed than jumping on a train to and from practice.

Q: How would you describe working at Livi?

AO: It's a great place to work! This was my first time working in this sort of environment and I was very traditional. I’m used to hierarchy and board meetings, but Livi has a very flat structure. Everybody is friendly and very supportive. I’ve worked closely with the medical director (Dr Harriet Bradley) and the director for mental health (George Jones) and all of the team are so approachable. The culture is very open which encourages team interaction. I would highly recommend it.

Q: What’s the vision for the future for Livi’s CBT therapy service?

AO: I think there are many ways that the service can grow. We’re offering support to our own employees with their mental health which is great. We’re also working with corporate organisations to support their staff too. That's just one area that we can expand. There are challenges within secondary care psychological services as well. Waiting lists can be long, but with digital support, patients can be seen quicker. There is a lot of scope to support the NHS in that regard. It’s just the beginning. I see a lot of potential for Livi to grow and help even more people.

Want to join our CBT therapy team?

To apply, visit our clinical talent hub.

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