Indonesia Expat

CBT Psychotherapy in Bali

In this issue’s Business Profile, we meet Ellie Donnelly (BA, PGDip, MSc), Consultant CBT Psychotherapist for Daisy Retreat, Bali.

Can you tell us a bit about Daisy Retreat as a business?

Daisy Retreat, Bali is a unique and extremely effective residential Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Mindfulness Therapy retreat business. We offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – the clinically recommended frontline treatment for mood and anxiety disorders. It has been proven to help treat a wide range of emotional and physical health conditions in adults, young people and children. It is underpinned by extensive research on the role of our behaviour and thoughts in the development and maintenance of emotional disorders.

And what is your background, Ellie?

I am a Consultant CBT Psychotherapist and co-founder of Daisy Retreat. I undertook my clinical training in Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy with University College London, at the Middlesex Hospital in 1998. Since then, in addition to my own private practice, I have held senior positions at The Priory, Capio Nightingale and Cygnet Hospitals in London, England.

Our Indonesian Clinical Psychologist, Reina Ritma Wangsadjaja, M. Psi, Psi is from Jakarta. She has worked on domestic violence cases, mental illnesses, HIV/AIDS and drugs abuse cases through psychological interventions. Reina uses Empowerment Counselling, Music Therapy, Art Therapy, Redecision Therapy, Stress Management, Communication Training, Relaxation, Mindfulness, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

When did you open your business and how has it been performing?

We opened our clinic in Bali in March 2013. We have had clients from all over the world come for our retreats as well as expats here in Indonesia. Clients have come from Canada, America, Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East. We are extremely proud of the help we have been able to provide to clients from around the globe. We have treated adults, couples and adolescents who have suffered from a range of problems.

Our team here at Daisy Retreat consists of me as the Consultant CBT Psychotherapist, and I am from Ireland. My co-owner is Sue Nunley, originally from America, who looks after all marketing and business related issues; Reina Ritma Wangsadjaja Psi, Psi, our Clinical Psychologist from Jakarta. When necessary, we work with allied professionals including Consultant Psychiatrists and general medical practitioners to ensure our clients’ needs are fully met during their stay. We also have a loyal Daisy team of support staff who ensure a tranquil atmosphere – and the Daisy cook, who serves delicious Indonesian and Western cuisine.

There are not many places where you can access western psychotherapy in Indonesia – what brought you to Bali?

Visiting for the first time three years ago, we realized there was a real gap in the services offered for mental health issues here in Bali and Jakarta, and across Indonesia as a whole. Bali is known for its healing services, whether it is yoga, meditation classes or other types of spiritual healing. However, there was very little on offer if people needed Western-style, clinically proven methods of help with mental health. Even Australia has very little to offer, yet people suffer all over the world from of a range emotional and anxiety disorders. Some of the most common conditions we treat at Daisy Retreat include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and Panic Attacks
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Grief
  • Body Dsymorphic Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

In addition, the sun and warmth of the Bali climate are very important to what we do. The sun is an important part of the therapeutic process, as the brain responds to sunlight by releasing serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is involved in sleep, mood, memory and other neurological processes. Just as darkness stimulates the production of melatonin which establishes sleep cycles, serotonin promotes wakefulness and helps elevate mood.

There are many types of psychotherapy; you use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Can you explain what CBT is?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a combination of behavioural psychotherapy and cognitive therapy. Put another way, “Identifying behavioural and thought patterns which maintain distress – and changing them.”

CBT is the clinically recommended treatment for mood, emotional and anxiety disorders. It focuses on the ways in which our thoughts and beliefs may be causing emotional problems. CBT works on the premise that we ‘learn’ to think and act in ways that cause repeated troubles in our lives. It looks at how we think about a situation and how this affects the way we act. In turn our actions can affect how we think and how we feel. Through considering our instinctive, automatic reactions we can reach more informed, healthier interpretations, change the effects of our experience and flourish. We work with our clients to change their behaviour and thinking patterns, helping them to flourish rather than simply ‘survive’. Very importantly, our results are measurable – we measure, through questionnaires, the emotional state of clients when they arrive with us, and measure the same levels at the end of their stay.

What are the most common types of conditions you see from your clients?

Depression and anxiety are by far the most prevalent conditions, which in themselves can be part of, or indicative of a range of other conditions such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, issues with anger, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, plus a range of phobias.

Therapy can be a time-consuming and expensive option. What would you say to people who are considering professional help?

It’s more time-consuming to spend a lifetime in pain or sadness that you could be free of. People think nothing of spending money on surgery, cars, houses, holidays, clothes, etc. to make them happy.  I suspect these things are a false economy. They simply do not work in the long term. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy does. Our prices are around 40% less than European prices, with special rates offered to our Indonesian clientele.

What is the Daisy Retreat program like?

When you come to stay with us for a residential retreat, you are welcomed into a wonderfully kind and supportive environment – the complete antithesis of any residential experience our clients may have previously had. Clients stay with us at our beautiful villa in Jimbaran which overlooks the ocean, and they receive intensive CBT and Cognitive Mindfulness therapy each day.

We also offer Intensive Day Therapy, where clients receive 2.5 hours of CBT during each session, and sessions are done (preferably) over a series of concurrent days. We do it this way because research shows that learning (or conditioning) is best facilitated when it is undertaken in a massed, repeated way. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence UK (NICE) states that the average number of hours of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy required for generalized anxiety disorders is 16-20 hours in total. Using the traditional method of seeing a therapist once a week, it would require four to five months to receive the amount of therapy we provide over consecutive days.

So, do people get better?

Our results are extremely impressive. We use measurement tools developed by Aaron Beck, the ‘Father of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’ to clinically measure our client’s progress. Since we began, we have achieved an average of 70% reduction in anxiety levels and an 80% reduction in depression levels after an average of 20 hours of 1:1 CBT. We have actually had two clients who scored a 100% drop in both anxiety and depression levels after intensive therapy with us.

Finally, what would you say the goal is for Daisy Retreat?

Our goal is to become Asia’s leading residential and intensive day therapy clinic for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Mindfulness Therapy, using clinically proven methods and techniques developed by the world’s leading authorities on mental health.

To get in touch, email: You can also visit the website, for further information and prices.


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