Cognitive Behaviour Therapy High Intensity Postgraduate Diploma

This High Intensity Diploma is core funded by West Midlands NHS and is designed to provide a postgraduate training for a group of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) 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 IAPT initiative in Primary Care Mental Health Services, work is in progress to maintain existing IAPT 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 two days per week clinical placement, with supervision. Placements are most successful within an IAPT service, so it is hoped that provider sites will be able to work in partnership with IAPT to foster this mutually beneficial arrangement.

Details of training

  • The next cohort will start 30 September 2019. Throughout the programme, trainees will attend university two days per week and spend three days per week on clinical placement. Placements are most successful within an IAPT service, so it is hoped that provider sites will be able to work in partnership with IAPT to foster this mutually beneficial arrangement.

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 CBT practitioner to 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 Diploma will provide a significant component of the current requirements for accreditation as a cognitive behavioural therapist by the BABCP – but those applicants who may eventually wish to take this path should note that there may be additional requirements to fulfil BABCP accreditation criteria.

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 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.

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.

Why study this course

Comments from past students

"The course was very well organised and delivered."

"The use of the practical exercises was helpful."

"Consistantly of high standard and always very interesting, useful and stimulating."

"Thank you – The chance to speak to a person who experiences OCD and the privilege of being able to ask questions."

"It has increased my understanding of CBT, the model how to formulate and use a range of techniques much I can apply in my practice."

"An excellent, but punishing course! The quality of the lectures were excellent and the teaching provided an excellent basis for clinical practice."


Course structure

Module number Module title Days Credits
1 The fundamentals of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy 20 40
2 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety Disorders 20 40
3 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Depression 20 40

Total days:60
Total credits: 120


Module Summaries

Module 1: The fundamentals 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 IAPT 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 IAPT site, and within the University
  • Guided self study
  • Individual tutorials

Fees and funding

2019/20 fees are  £9,900. 

What funding is available?

Health Education England (HEE) is offering a further opportunity for NHS and NHS-commissioned services in the West Midlands to access High Intensity CBT training for their staff. Please be aware that, at the time of writing, precise funding arrangements for High Intensity CBT training have not been finalised. The financial offer detailed here may be subject to change. It is also uncertain whether any future cohorts will receive any funding from HEE.

42 posts will be funded across the West Midlands region:

  • This comprises 14 places at 3 Higher Education Institutions (The University of Birmingham, Coventry University and Staffordshire University)
  • Funding is available to NHS and NHS-commissioned service providers within the West Midlands region
  • In addition to the availability of funded places, applications are welcome from direct entrants funded by themselves or by an organisation, provided they can meet the entry criteria and can arrange an appropriate clinical placement 

Direct entrants 

We also accept applicants who wish to self-fund or from those who would be able to access funding from organisations outside of the NHS. Such applicants would need to demonstrate their ability to access a placement in which the clinical components of the training would be undertaken, as well as access to clinical supervision from a BABCP accredited therapist. For further information about this option, please contact the Programme Administrator on

For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to eligible financial support via the Postgraduate Masters or Doctoral loan for the duration of their course. For more information visit the website.

You can also visit our EU Referendum information page for more information and updates.

EU Referendum

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Entry requirements

The courses are 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 hold a relevant core profession or be able to demonstrate the equivalent knowledge, skills and attitudes. Please see the accreditation section of the BABCP website for further details.

There are two routes to entry: 

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

      • Arts Therapists – HCPC Registered
      • Counselling – Accredited with the BACP, IACP, COSCA, or FDAP (NCAC), or Registered Member CPC
      • Medicine – Psychiatrist or General Practitioner, MBChB or MBBS, and usually PG training with membership of MRCGP, MRCP or MRCPsych
      • Occupational Therapy – BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy, MSc Occupational Therapy, or Dip C.O.T and HCPC Registered
      • Probation Services – DipPS
      • Psychology – 1st degree plus a post-graduate qualification (MSc or Doctorate) in an applied area such as clinical, counselling, educational, forensic, health psychology. HCPC Registered as Practitioner Psychologist (HCPC registration alone insufficient)
      • Psychotherapy / Psychotherapeutic Counselling with UKCP Registration
      • Registered Nurse – Mental Health (RMN), or Learning Disability (general nursing and enrolled nursing is insufficient)
      • Social Work – CQSW, DipSW or BA/BSc Hons Social Work
      • Teacher of Special Education / Needs – CertEd, B.Ed, or BA/BSc with PGCE, plus additional specialist training in Special Education, with additional counselling / psychotherapy training

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

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

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.

How to apply

The closing date for applications of 31st May 2019. 


Selection for each of the courses is a two-stage process:

  • An academic screening exercise for applicants will take place at the University of Birmingham in June 2019. 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 one of the course leads.
  • For those passing the first stage, this will be followed by a face-to-face interview at a date and venue to be confirmed. 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, either through the core profession or KSA route.

Assessment methods

There are eight assignments to be handed in during the programme.

  • Case study x 4
    • 3 x written case studies (4,000 words)
    • 1 x oral presentation (plus a 250 word abstract)
  • OSCE video recorded assignment (30 minute role play of a CBT assessment session plus 1,000 word reflective summary)
  • Therapy session audio/video recordings x 2 (50 minute live session recording plus 1,000 word reflective summary)
  • Practice portfolio

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