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Acquiring and Refining CBT Skills and Competencies: Which Training Methods are Perceived to be Most Effective?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 August 2009

James Bennett-Levy*
University of Sydney and Southern Cross University, Australia
Freda McManus
Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre, UK
Bengt E. Westling
University of Uppsala, Sweden
Melanie Fennell
Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre, UK
Reprint requests to James Bennett-Levy, University Department of Rural Health (Northern Rivers), University of Sydney and Southern Cross University, PO Box 3074, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia. E-mail:


Background: A theoretical and empirical base for CBT training and supervision has started to emerge. Increasingly sophisticated maps of CBT therapist competencies have recently been developed, and there is evidence that CBT training and supervision can produce enhancement of CBT skills. However, the evidence base suggesting which specific training techniques are most effective for the development of CBT competencies is lacking. Aims: This paper addresses the question: What training or supervision methods are perceived by experienced therapists to be most effective for training CBT competencies? Method: 120 experienced CBT therapists rated which training or supervision methods in their experience had been most effective in enhancing different types of therapy-relevant knowledge or skills. Results: In line with the main prediction, it was found that different training methods were perceived to be differentially effective. For instance, reading, lectures/talks and modelling were perceived to be most useful for the acquisition of declarative knowledge, while enactive learning strategies (role-play, self-experiential work), together with modelling and reflective practice, were perceived to be most effective in enhancing procedural skills. Self-experiential work and reflective practice were seen as particularly helpful in improving reflective capability and interpersonal skills. Conclusions: The study provides a framework for thinking about the acquisition and refinement of therapist skills that may help trainers, supervisors and clinicians target their learning objectives with the most effective training strategies.

Research Article
Copyright © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2009

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