How to Choose a CBT Training Course

The Aim of your Training

The first point to consider is whether you wish to become accredited at the end of your CBT training – if you do, this will affect some of the criteria you will need to look for in a course.

Why should I become accredited?

If your aim is to become accredited, you will need to check that the training you undertake will ultimately allow you to meet the BABCP Minimum Training Standards (MTS). This training will usually be a Post-Graduate diploma. However, there can be great variation between diploma courses and this page aims to help you choose courses that are more likely to lead to accreditation. It will still be very important for you to compare the course curriculum with these Standards to be sure you will be able to meet them after graduating.

If you are not seeking BABCP accreditation, and your intention is simply to gain some CBT skills and knowledge, then you may not need to be so selective in your choice or length of training and your own previous experience will be less important. However this page will still provide recommendations on how to check the quality of a course.

Before training in CBT

Prior mental health training and experience is required to embark on many CBT courses, and will be necessary if you wish to apply for accreditation.

What background do I need to train in CBT?

Considering courses

Once you are satisfied that you have a suitable background, you can consider your options for CBT training. Here are a few pointers.

BABPC Accredited Courses

BABCP recommends these courses as they have been verified in terms of content, quality of teaching and the training of the teachers.

What Are Accredited Courses?

Considerations when choosing a Course

Sometimes cost, location or other commitments may mean that it is more practical for you to complete a Level 1 accredited, or a non-accredited course.

It may still be possible to become accredited if you complete one of these; however, here are points to consider to help you choose. We recommend that you talk to the Course Directors of any courses you are considering and ask for their curriculum details in order to ascertain the following:

*The criteria marked with an asterisk will be met by Level 1 accredited courses – these are courses which meet BABCP standards in terms of quality of training, but meet some but not all of the Minimum Training Standards. The courses can tell you more about this.

Below is a link to the BABCP Minimum Training Standards against which the training for applicants for accreditation will be measured. It is important that you check any course information against these. Below are points to help you further.

Minimum Training Standards

Therapeutic training involves learning interpersonal skills. For this reason, BABCP requires that for accreditation standards, at least 80% of training on courses is face to face. This is in order for you to practice skills in role play and exercises in person with the trainers and other trainees. Even if you don’t wish to be accredited, this is the best way to learn any form of psychotherapy skills.

To be eligible for accreditation, your CBT training will be at Post-Graduate level (university level 7). This will usually by a Post-Graduate Diploma in CBT specifically, on a University validated course.

In order to get accredited after a non-accredited training, you will need to demonstrate that all the trainers and supervisors who taught you are suitably trained qualified CBT themselves. This means they will either be BABCP accredited practitioners or clinicians who are principally trained in and practising CBT and receiving CBT supervision .

Training and supervision on all BABCP accredited courses is provided entirely by BABCP accredited practitioners.

The BABCP Minimum Training Standards for accreditation require that you have completed 200 taught CBT hours on core CBT skills and theory. If the course falls a little short of these 200 hours it is possible for you to make these up after the course – please follow this link.

There are many courses which incorporate elements of CBT within them, but unless they are Post-Graduate trainings in CBT alone, it is possible that they will not meet the required taught CBT hours for accreditation – you will need to check this against the course information.

CBT training should involve learning first the fundamental theories and skills that underpin and inform cognitive and behavioural therapy. We expect courses to help students to learn the best evidence-based treatments including core protocols for depression and anxiety disorders. In order to meet the criteria for accreditation, we advise the first 200 CBT taught hours of your training should be these “core” skills. Courses which focus on CBT related approaches such as mindfulness, compassion focused therapy, Acceptance and Commitment therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and Schema therapy can be valuable; however, for the purposes of accreditation, may not be considered as core CBT skills.

To learn any skill, you have to practice it. As a trainee CBT therapist, ideally you will be on placement during your training. For accreditation, you will need to have completed 200 clinical practice hours that are supervised by a BABCP Accredited Therapist or equivalent.

Some courses provide the placements (e.g. IAPT courses), others you will have to find your own placement.

Supervision of your placement hours provides a substantial element of your learning within training. Courses which provide supervision within the training may be able to do this in a more coherent way than courses where the supervisors are external to the programme. Live supervision (reviewing of audio or videotapes or sitting in a session) is required for accreditation and there is evidence that this enhances your learning and skills as a therapist. It is worth checking if this is required for any course in which you are interested.

Both these are provided as part of the standard on accredited courses, and all supervisors are BABCP accredited practitioners on these courses.

It is seen as helpful to show that you have related your in-placement training to the CBT literature. This is often demonstrated through case studies. Four case studies are required to have been formally assessed for the purposes of accreditation. If you embark on a course that requires less than this, you will need to complete the remainder prior to applying for accreditation.

If you successfully apply for an IAPT training, you will not have to pay for your training, but you will be an NHS employee during the course only and your placement and supervision will be included in this training. Most other post-graduate trainings have to be paid for by the student or sometimes are partly funded by a commissioner or employer.

*The criteria marked with an asterisk will be met by Level 1 accredited courses – these are courses which meet BABCP standards in terms of quality of training, but not quantity. The courses can tell you more about this.