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Cognitive Behaviour Therapy High Intensity Postgraduate Diploma

Start date
12 months full-time (2 days at University, 3 days in clinical practice)
Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Taught

Our Cognitive Behaviour Therapy High Intensity Postgraduate Diploma provides a significant component of the current requirements for accreditation as a cognitive behavioural therapist by the BABCP. You will gain the knowledge and clinical skills to operate effectively as a psychological therapist.

This High Intensity Diploma is joint funded by Health Education England and local NHS Commissioners and is designed to provide a postgraduate training for NHS Talking Therapies High Intensity Cognitive Behaviour Therapists.

babcp-accreditation-logoThe Diploma aims to teach students to achieve the level of knowledge and clinical skills to operate effectively as psychological therapists, using evidence-based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy methods routinely in their work.

Following the success of the NHS Talking Therapies initiative in primary care mental health services, work is in progress to maintain existing NHS Talking Therapies services and to extend into other services whose users could benefit from psychological therapies. This may include a range of mental health services, addictions services, and physical health care services. For trainees to be successful, they will attend university two days per week and three days per week clinical placement, with supervision. Placements are most successful within an NHS Talking Therapies service, and funding is available only to those on placement within specified NHS Talking Therapies or NHS Talking Therapies-commissioned services.

Details of training

The next cohort will start in September 2024. Throughout the programme, trainees will attend university two days per week and spend three days per week on clinical placement.

Key Features

  • To equip practitioners to offer ‘high intensity’ CBT for people with moderate and moderate to severe depression and anxiety at Step 3 within the primary care settings.
  • To equip practitioners to function as skilled, and relatively independent cognitive behaviour therapists, in accordance with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) guidelines for good practice.
  • To equip practitioners to reach the necessary standards required for provisional accreditation as a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist with the BABCP on successful completion of the course.
  • To facilitate the development of a critical knowledge of the theory and research relating to CBT. 

The Postgraduate Diploma in CBT for High Intensity Workers provides all necessary requirements for accreditation as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist by the BABCP. It should be noted, however, that accreditation is a separate process that students who complete the programme can apply for subsequent to graduating.

All prospective students are strongly advised to look at the BABCP website PRIOR to applying to ensure that they understand the Minimum Training Standards for the Practice of CBT, and in particular those relating to the core professional qualification requirements. Applicants without a core profession will need to satisfy the requirements of the Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes (KSA) framework, details of which can be found on the BABCP website. More information relating to this can be found by clicking the Entry Requirements tab above.

NB. This advice applies whether a potential applicant intends to apply eventually for BABCP accreditation or not, as the BABCP Training Standards information provides a good overview of CBT related skills and competences in general – which is relevant to ALL those even considering applying for a Diploma in CBT.

This course has been an amazing experience, both in terms of what I've learned professionally, and also personally, in terms of growth and endurance. I would recommend it to others and I hope I do the course team proud in terms of my practice going forward. You have made a difference to our lives as students, and to the lives of our service users.

Catherine Walker, Cognitive Behaviour Therapist


Course structure

Module number Module title Days Credits
1 Principles and Practice of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy 20 40
2 Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Anxiety Disorders 20 40
3 Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Depression 20 40

Total days:60
Total credits: 120

Module Summaries

Module 1: The Principles and Practice of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

This module will focus on the fundamental principles of CBT. Trainees will be encouraged to develop a critical understanding of the theoretical and research evidence for cognitive models, and an ability to evaluate the evidence. The module aims to enable trainees to have an understanding of how scientific principles inform CBT clinical practice. This module will focus on core clinical competencies (skills) necessary for undertaking CBT. It covers cognitive models, maintenance and developmental conceptualisations of cases and the core aspects of the cognitive and behavioural processes of therapy. Clinical workshops will address the most up-to-date evidence for the effectiveness of CBT and provide direct training in applying CBT. The lectures and workshops will consist of information giving, role-play, experiential exercises, and video and case demonstrations; the experiential exercises encourage self-reflection, increase self-awareness and skills acquisition. Sessions will also incorporate a focus on therapists’ beliefs.

Aims of Module 1:

  • To develop practical competency in the fundamentals of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy;
  • To develop critical knowledge of the theoretical and research literature underlying CBT.

Module 2: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

This module aims to develop skills in CBT for anxiety disorders to an advanced level, improving proficiency in the fundamental techniques of CBT, and developing competencies in the specialist techniques applied to anxiety disorders. Specific models, evidence base, assessment and specialist treatment strategies will be covered in workshops on specific phobia, panic disorder, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and health anxiety. The clinical workshops will provide practitioners with a strong foundation in the evidence base for working with CBT and anxiety disorders, and address the most up-to-date research developments.

Aims of Module 2:

  • To develop critical knowledge of the theoretical and research literature of CBT with anxiety disorders;
  • To develop practical competency in CBT for anxiety disorders.

Module 3: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Depression

This module aims to develop skills in CBT for depression to an advanced level, improving proficiency in the fundamental techniques of CBT and developing competency in the specialist techniques used in the treatment of depression. Specific cognitive and behavioural models of depression, empirical evidence, and assessment and specialist cognitive and behavioural treatment strategies will be covered in workshops. The clinical workshops will provide trainees with a strong foundation in the evidence base for CBT with depression, and address the most up-to-date research methods.

Aims of Module 3:

  • To develop practical competency in CBT for depression;
  • To develop critical knowledge of the theoretical and research literature informing CB theory and treatment of depression.

Taught modules offered include:

Learning within the High Intensity Diploma course is comprised of:

  • Supervised clinical placement within the NHS Talking Therapies service
  • Academic lectures
  • Skills workshops, including skills practice, small group work and various forms of experiential learning
  • Individual and group clinical supervision, both within the NHS Talking Therapies site, and within the University
  • Guided self study
  • Individual tutorials

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


What funding is available?

Health Education England (HEE) and local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) offer the opportunity for NHS and NHS-commissioned services in the Midlands region to access High Intensity CBT training for their staff. This comprises payment of the course fees and payment of a salary at Band 6 of the NHS pay scale.

A number of posts will be funded across the West Midlands region:

  • This comprises places at Higher Education Institutions including The University of Birmingham
  • Funding is available to NHS Talking Therapies and NHS Talking Therapies-commissioned service providers within the West Midlands region
  • To access the funding, you must be an existing member of staff working in an eligible service, or be recruited to a trainee CBT therapist post.  These posts will be advertised by service providers as soon as funding arrangements are finalised.  We anticipate that these adverts will be released in Spring 2024.

How To Apply

Applications for 2024 entry closed on 5 May 2024. We are unable to accept late applications.

The written test will take place on 4 June and interviews will take place on the following dates: 11th, 13th-14th, 17th-18th and 20th June 2024 inclusive.


Selection for the course is a two-stage process:

  • An academic screening exercise for applicants will take place on 4 June 2024. A presentation on the nature and content of the Diploma course will be provided on this day, along with the opportunity for a Q&A session with the course lead.
  • For those passing the first stage, this will be followed by an interview between mid-to-late June 2024. Should they be selected for interview, applicants will be expected to attend interviews with a signed declaration from a placement provider that they have an offer of an appropriate placement. Placement offers may be conditional at that stage. Interviewees should also expect to be able demonstrate their eligibility for the programme, either through the core profession or KSA route.

Please note that we do not consider deferrals.  Successful applicants may need to withdraw and reapply if they find that they can no longer undertake the course in the year of application.

Read our FAQs

Our Standard Requirements

The PGDip CBT (HIW) is designed to meet the criteria for accreditation with the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) as a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist. Thus, to be eligible to enter training, individuals must have relevant academic and professional experience as detailed below. Please see the accreditation section of the BABCP website for further details.

Academic Background

Before you train in CBT, you must have a degree or an equivalent level 6 qualification.

Professional Background

In order to train, you must demonstrate that you have a ‘core’ mental health profession or BABCP recognised equivalent. Thus, there are two routes to entry:

Either, applicants must be qualified in one of a list of BABCP determined core professions

      • Arts Therapists – Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Registered
      • Counselling – Accreditation with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (MBACP Accred), Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP), Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA), Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals’ National Counsellor Accreditation Certificate (FDAP NCAC) or National Counselling & Psychotherapy Society (previously National Counselling Society) - Accredited Professional Registrant (PNCPS Accred)
      • Medicine – Psychiatrist or General Practitioner, MBChB or MBBS, and usually PG training with membership of MRCGP, MRCP or MRCPsych
      • Nurse - NMC Registered Mental Health Nurse, or NMC Registered Learning Disability Nurse
      • Occupational Therapy – BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy, MSc Occupational Therapy, or Diploma of the College of Occupational Therapists (DipCOT) and HCPC Registered
      • Psychotherapy/ Psychotherapeutic Counselling – United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) Registered
      • Social Work – Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW), Diploma in Social Work (DipSW), MA Social Work, or BA/BSc Hons Social Work. Registered with one of four UK regulators - Social Work England (SWE), Social Care Wales (SCW), Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) and Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) *or previously registered with HCPC
      • Postgraduate Doctorate in Clinical/Counselling Psychology - Post-graduate doctorate in clinical or counselling psychology and HCPC Registered as Practitioner Psychologist
      • Educational Psychology - Doctorate or Qualification in Educational Psychology Stage 2 (QEPS) - must have BPS Chartership (CPsychol) and HCPC Registration as Practitioner Psychologist
      • Health Psychology – Qualification in Health Psychology Stage 2 (QHP) - must have BPS Chartership (CPsychol) and HCPC Registration as Practitioner Psychologist
      • Forensic Psychology – Qualification in Forensic Psychology Stage 2 (QFP) - must have BPS Chartership (CPsychol) and HCPC Registration as Practitioner Psychologist

Or, applicants must satisfy the criteria of the Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes (KSA) framework, as described by the BABCP: 

      • It is recognised that the core Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes (KSA) expected of an individual as a precursor for undertaking formal postgraduate training in CBT may be acquired by alternative routes to acquiring a traditional relevant recognised Core Professional qualification or training.  An individual meeting the relevant recognised Core Professional qualifications or trainings will usually have undertaken a first degree or foundation course, followed by postgraduate level of study.  It is therefore reasonable to expect that someone evidencing how they meet the KSA criteria should demonstrate equivalent levels of knowledge, skills, attitudes, competencies, and experience
      • Evidence of meeting the KSA criteria can be demonstrated by assembling a Portfolio of Evidence for Course Assessment, which can be made up of formal qualifications, formal and informal training, self-directed study, formal assessment of knowledge, skills and attitudes as demonstrated by course or job entry requirements, work related experience, and references attesting to knowledge, skills, competencies, and attitudes
      • See the BABCP website KSA page for detailed guidance on the KSA criteria and assembling a KSA portfolio

From late June 2021, a condensed KSA portfolio has been introduced for applicants with certain types of previous experience, eg registered PWP's with a psychology undergraduate degree only need to complete sections 4, 13 and 14 of the KSA portfolio.  Please carefully refer to the full guidance on the BABCP website. 

Placement during the course

Applicants must also have access to a work setting in which it is possible to undertake three days per week of face to face, supervised CBT practice and audio/video record client sessions for assessment in the academic setting. For the applicant to qualify for Health Education England funding, this placement must be within an NHS Talking Therapies or NHS Talking Therapies-commissioned service.

We operate our selection procedures in line with NHS Values Based Recruitment.

Read our FAQs

Teaching schedule

The programme starts with an initial 15-day teaching block, delivered over three full weeks.  Thereafter, teaching is delivered over two days each week for the remainder of the three semesters.

Day  Activity Times 
Tuesday  Teaching 09:30 - 16:30
Wednesday  Supervision Groups in the morning 09:30 - 12:30
Wednesday  Teaching (lecture or skills workshop) 13:30 - 16:30

Read our FAQs

Assessment Methods

There are eight assignments to be submitted during the programme:

Case study (x4)
  • 3 x written case studies (4,000 words)
  • 1 x oral presentation (plus a 250 word abstract)

Audio/video recordings (x3)

  • 1 x video recorded assignment (30-minute role play of a CBT assessment session plus 1,000 word session rating using the Cognitive Therapy Scale – Revised (CTS-R))
  • 2 x audio/video recordings of actual therapy sessions delivered on placement (50 minute live session recording plus 1,000 word session rating using the CTS-R)

Practice portfolio, comprising

  • Clinical case logs (to evidence 200 supervised clinical hours)
  • 8 completed cases (at least three different presentations, one of which must be PTSD)
    • Assessment and end of treatment reports
    • Summary forms
  • Supervision log (to evidence 70 hours of supervision)
  • Close supervision log
  • University and placement supervisor placement reports
  • 6 x CTS-R ratings of session recordings
  • 5 x reviews of CBT literature
  • Case study with an integrated reflective analysis of a treatment session
  • Course tutor progress reviews
  • Self-study records

Read our FAQs

The course provides students with all the experience they need to meet the requirements to become accredited as Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists with the BABCP.  As such, employment prospects are very good, since BABCP accreditation is a highly sought after standard among psychotherapists both within the NHS and in other services.  Over 95% of students enter employment immediately upon successful completion of the programme, with the vast majority of these taking up posts within the NHS or third sector organisations.  A smaller number sign up for locum posts with employment agencies or set up in private practice.