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Psychotherapy CBT Retreat-Bali

Ellie Donnelly of Daisy Retreat
Ellie Donnelly of Daisy Retreat

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

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

Daisy Retreat, Bali and Ireland is a unique and extremely effective residential treatment program. We offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Based Mindfulness Therapy – both clinically recommended frontline treatments for mood and anxiety disorders. 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 the owner of Daisy Retreat in both Bali, Indonesia and Connemara, Ireland and the owner of the Indonesian healthcare company Are Global Indonesia. I undertook my clinical training in Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy with University College London, at the Middlesex Hospital in 1998. Before setting up Daisy Retreat in addition to my own private practice in London, I was the Head of Therapy for The Priory Hospital in the UK.

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

I opened my clinic in Bali in March 2013. We have had clients from all over the world to attend the retreat as well as expats here in Indonesia. Clients have come from all over Asia, Canada, America, Australia, Africa, the UK, 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 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. We have actually had several clients who scored a 100% drop in both anxiety and depression levels after intensive therapy with us.

Our team here at Daisy Retreat consists of me as the Consultant CBT Psychotherapist, and I am from Ireland. Reina Ritma Wangsadjaja Psi, Psi, our Clinical Psychologist from Jakarta and Twin Darmawan our yoga instructor from Bali. 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 Retreat team of support staff who ensure a tranquil atmosphere and the Daisy Retreat chef Wati, who serves delicious Indonesian and Western cuisine.

CBT Bali
Daisy Retreat, Bali

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

Visiting for the first time in 2011, I 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 a range of 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) and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Grief
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Personality Disorders.
  • Eating Disorders.

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. Our results show a 96% improvement in mood and 92% improvement in Anxiety. (based on the Beck Depression and the Beck Anxiety inventory).

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, Eating Disorders, Personality Disorders, 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 50% less than European prices.

What is the Daisy Retreat program like?

We only see one person at a time, 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 Sanur, 100 metres from the beach and they receive intensive CBT, Yoga and Cognitive Based 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. The National Institute for 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.

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

Our goal is simple, to heal; using clinically proven methods and techniques developed by the world’s leading authorities on mental health but in a non-clinical, warm and beautiful environment. We are interested not just in removing misery but in helping our clients move towards happiness and fulfilment.

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

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