Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)

Overview of programme

The Lancaster programme has evolved over the past four years since it first began to train CBT therapists. The programme has evolved our learning methods and supervision style to ensure we place the trainee learning experience as central to our programme ethos. We hope through collaboration with trainees and NHS service providers to allow trainees to develop into the CBT practitioner they wish to become.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is recognised as an evidenced based intervention option for many psychological difficulties that are common for individuals in a primary care setting who meet diagnostic criteria for depression or anxiety.

Within the past ten years this growing evidence has evolved into the development of intervention guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) on the treatment of a number of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). These guidelines are aimed to inform clinicians of best practice based on the evidence available to date. CBT is one of the main forms of ‘talking therapy’ that is recommended within the NICE guidelines for adults who experience depression and anxiety related difficulties.

The Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) agenda aims to greatly increase the availability of NICE recommended psychological treatment for individuals who meet diagnostic criteria for depression and anxiety within the National Health Service (NHS) in England.

The Lancaster training programme aims to provide a post-graduate training in evidence-based CBT. The programme follows the curriculum developed by the department of health guidelines for High Intensity CBT training (DoH, 2008). The training aims to ensure that trainees reach a level of competence that will enable them to obtain the outcomes reported in the relevant NICE guidance. Students will also become familiar with the management of difficulties that are often associated with diagnoses of depression and anxiety (e.g. substance misuse).

The Lancaster programme has received Level 2 accreditation with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). Trainee's who complete this programme will be qualified to apply for ‘Provisional Accreditation’ subject to passing all areas of the academic and clinical coursework.

The programme also aims to encourage trainee’s to develop their reflective practice skills and find an individual approach, guided by evidence, to meaningfully engage service users.

Programme structure

The programme is delivered by experienced clinical psychologists who are also accredited CBT therapists with the BABCP.

Teaching is typically delivered 2 days per week at Lancaster University with the remaining three days spent in clinical practice with the trainee’s employer. The programme commences with a two week induction block

Admissions information

Entrants to the programme are usually required to have a qualification in mental health (e.g. clinical psychology, psychiatric nursing, occupational therapy) and have at least two years of post-qualification experience.

Those without an undergraduate qualification but with extensive relevant clinical experience, who are able to demonstrate the required level of preparedness for postgraduate academic work, will also be considered.  These applicants will be required to complete a pre-entry assignment before their place with the programme is confirmed.

The programme will consider people without a core profession if they can demonstrate that they have equivalent knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA).  Further information about the KSA process is contained on the BABCP website (

Please note that applicants from a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) background are required to have at least two years clinical experience post-qualification before they can commence the High Intensity training at Lancaster.


Please note that the university does not currently accept direct applications for the programme.

Applicants are invited to apply via the website and the posts are usually advertised between April 2013 and June 2013. The university will endeavour to list any additional employment lists that posts may be advertised on. For example, charity organisations or private companies who provide IAPT services.

Should you wish to receive any further information about the IAPT programme at Lancaster please do not hesitate to contact us.

All enquiries should be initially directed towards the programme secretary who will sign post enquiries to the relevant course member.

Contact Details

Dr Ben Harper

    Faculty of Health & Medicine
    Lancaster University
    LA1 4YG
    Personal page

Fiona Thompson (Programme Co-ordinator)

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