Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Children and Young People MSc
This programme provides training for individuals in outcomes-based CBT interventions to promote psychological wellbeing in children and young people. This Master's programme is aimed at professionals already working in the field of children's services, including social care, education and health, who hope to gain skills they can practise in the workplace.
This part time programme, run in conjunction with the Anna Freud Centre, provides training for individuals in outcomes-based interventions to promote psychological wellbeing in children and young people. The course is aimed at professionals already working in the field of children's services, including social care, education and health, who hope to gain skills they can practice in the work place.
Students develop competence in the use of cognitive behaviour therapy and are able to devise interventions with children and young people experiencing a range of difficulties in social and emotional aspects of their development. The programme encourages an outcomes-based approach in ascertaining the interventions most appropriate to promote psychological wellbeing.
The course takes a highly respectful stance to other types of therapy with children and will emphasise when other methods may be more effective for particular types of problems. We also aim to develop participants’ skills in evaluating the impact of their own work in order to be able to reflect on and modify practice in future.
Objectives and Outcomes
Participants gain knowledge and understanding of cognitive behavioural approaches, their strengths and limitations and how they can be adapted to work with young people, drawing on systemic and other approaches.
Who is the programme for?
Students have come from a variety of jobs including; educational psychology, clinical psychology, primary care mental health, counselling, social work, behaviour support in schools, and various others. The job must allow the student access to children that they can practice CBT with, and must provide the student with supervision.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The programme is based and taught at the Anna Freud Centre, a national charity with a worldwide reputation for its commitment to the emotional wellbeing of children.
As well as a centre of learning and training for mental health professionals, the Anna Freud Centre's clinical services help young people with mental health problems. The centre also carries out pioneering research into effective ways to help young people suffering emotional distress.
Students benefit from the centre's collaboration with UCL; they gain the advantages of studying within the intimate and vibrant environment of the Anna Freud Centre, together with access to the facilities and resources of UCL – an internationally renowned university.
Student / staff ratios › 304 staff including 129 postdocs › 741 taught students › 439 research students
Department: Division of Psychology & Language Sciences
- Course Aims and Principles
The need to train more front line professionals in evidence-based approaches to enhancing children’s mental health and psychological well-being is a high level policy priority of both the Department of Health (DH) and the Department for Education (DfE). Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been identified as an important evidence-based intervention and due to the relative lack of CBT training courses for working with children, is a priority area for increased training provision.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder all recommend CBT as one of the treatments supported by evidence. In addition, government policy has recommended that there should be growth in delivery of CBT to a range of service users, and this has generated interest in delivery of cognitive behavioural interventions within children’s services amongst both front line practitioners and their managers.
It is recognized that CBT needs extension, development and adaptation for its application in work with children and young people. Standard 9 of the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services has articulated a vision and identified markers of good practice relating to training, supervision and evaluation of practice and outcomes that will direct the future development of services.
The postgraduate courses in CBT for Children and Young People were developed following widespread consultation within UCL and with key stakeholder groups.
Core values of the course
- Outcomes evaluation should be at the centre of practice
The course aims to provide an outcomes-based context for the use of CBT to work with children, as well as ensuring that participants have the knowledge and ability to develop their work in the light of the emerging evidence-base in the future. Although the course is predominantly focused on training students in CBT, the course positively recognizes the effectiveness of other models of intervention for childhood difficulties.
- Applying theory and knowledge to practice
A core feature of the course is to provide opportunities for application of theoretical knowledge and evidence to individual case work. All aspects of the course aim to be relevant to actual practice with children, young people and their families and schools. To achieve this, students are expected to bring video examples of their work to every teaching session and to consider how knowledge, evidence and theory relate to their work with an individual child’s difficulties.
- The need for a developmental perspective
All work with children should be embedded in a developmental perspective. This means that the cognitive, emotional and social developmental level of the child is central to our overall understanding of the problem and not secondary to it.
- Children are part of families
Children are dependent on their relationships with parents/carers, teachers and other adults and this dependency is also central to understanding psychological needs and change.
- Children are involved in learning and go to school
Children are required to go to school and their capacity to engage positively in this part of their lives is also highly related to their overall psychological well-being. The importance of education and schooling within emotional development is significant and also needs to be attended to and understood. We believe that this is a unique component of the UCL/Anna Freud Centre course.
- The need to consider the interface of CBT with other effective interventions
Systemic and psychodynamic models of practice with children are considered to have enormous value in helping troubled and distressed children and young people. The course does not train students in these methods of working but sets out to recognise the achievements of these approaches and to consider the implications of the effectiveness of these interventions for CBT practice.
In brief, the philosophy of the course is to explore, examine and learn how effective psychological interventions can be applied to the problems of childhood rather than consider how childhood can be fitted into the delivery of professionally favoured psychological interventions.
Core aims of the course
The course aims to provide participants with opportunities to develop competence, knowledge and theoretical understanding in the use of CBT, whilst also gaining a real understanding of both the strengths and limitations of this approach, including where there is evidence that other models are likely to be more effective than CBT.
The course is very focused on how CBT might best be adapted in working with children, young people, their parents/carers and staff who work with them in schools. Crucially, participants are encouraged to take an outcomes-based approach in ascertaining the interventions most appropriate to promote psychological wellbeing.
We also aim to develop participants’ skills in evaluating the impact of their own work in order to be able to reflect on and modify practice in future. The course also considers other modes of intervention where these are considered to enhance the overall CBT approach, notably systemic practice and mentalisation based models of practice.
- Key Aspects
- A framework that supports integration of new learning with practice in course participants’ work settings
- Regular tuition of course participants’ work with children, families and schools by experienced practitioners, to ensure proper support and practice
- A forum for developing and sharing creative and flexible practice using CBT with children and young people
- An experience that is both intellectually stimulating and practically useful for work with children and young people in the context of a range of children’s services.
The programme will develop participants’ knowledge and skills in cognitive behavioural based interventions with children and young people experiencing a range of difficulties in social and emotional aspects of their development. Participants will also develop skills in evaluating the impact of their own work, in order to be able to reflect on and modify practice in future.
All candidates should initially enrol for the Postgraduate Certificate (modules 1–4, 60 credits).
On completion they should make a decision to terminate their studies at that point or enrol to take further modules for the Diploma (modules 5–8, 60 credits) and MSc (dissertation module, 60 credits).
- Introduction to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Context
- Assessment and Engagement for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Context
- Basic Skills (Developing Understanding)
- Basic Skills (Methods of Change)
- Introduction to Disorder Specific Approaches
- Disorder Specific Approaches
- Complex Problems
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Context
- Research Dissertation
- There are no optional modules for this programme.
All MSc students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a substantial dissertation.
Teaching and Learning
The programme is delivered at the Anna Freud Centre, and taught by leading practitioners in the field. Teaching is a combination of lectures, workshops and seminars. A core component of the programme is video practice which is discussed in small practice tutor groups during each teaching day.
Further information on modules and degree structure available on the department web site Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Children and Young People MSc
Attendance at the Anna Freud Centre for the taught elements of the course involves 12/13 scheduled days per year (4 per term). In addition to attending on the timetabled dates, participants will need to commit additional time for private reading, undertaking direct delivery of interventions with individual children and writing up case-work and assignments.
Assessment for Certificate and Diploma
Student performance is assessed through a combination of written and oral assessments. Additionally, formative evaluation and feedback will be used, particularly the process of self-evaluation. This aims to encourage habitual self-evaluation and reflection on practice which is an essential basis both for immediate learning and for continuing professional development.
Each module has a written component made up of either a case report, case formulation, or essay.
Each module has an oral assessment. A digital video recording of a child, adolescent or parent will be required for some modules. Others will be assessed by vivas of students presenting case formulations or reports.
Assessment for MSc
All MSc students undertake an independant research project which culminates in a substantial dissertation.
The staff on this programme bring with them a wealth of experience of working with children and young people within a range of settings and agencies.
Joint Course Directors:
Sandra Dunsmuir (Co-Director, Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology, UCL)
Sandra completed her educational psychology training at UCL in 1986 and her PhD in 2000. She has had extensive experience working as an educational psychologist in four different local authorities in the south-east of England. Sandra has been involved with the training of educational psychologists at UCL since 1990, first as an Academic and Professional Tutor and since 2006, as Co-Director of the Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology.
Sandra’s interest in the delivery of effective interventions to improve the psychological well-being of children and young people led to her seeking professional development in the use of CBT and related approaches. She has embedded this within her practice and continues to work on a regular basis with children, their families and teachers in delivering a range of interventions in school and community settings. The evaluation of outcomes is a central aspect of this process and she has been collaborating with colleagues at the University of Manchester in developing research and practice protocols for this purpose. Sandra has also developed a major course module on CBT with children and adolescents for the initial training doctorate for educational psychologists at UCL, in conjunction with Vicki Curry. Supervision is seen as a crucial and integral part of professional training and Sandra, Vicki and colleagues are defining processes, evolving procedures and adapting tools to support and evaluate this.
Vicki Curry (Clinical Psychologist, Whittington Health NHS Trust)
Vicki qualified as a clinical psychologist in 1996, and has worked with children and young people for over 15 years as part of the Islington Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in both inpatient and community-based teams, in health, social care and school settings. She currently takes a lead in developing and supporting the provision of CBT for children and families across the service.
Vicki completed the Oxford Diploma in Cognitive Therapy 1999, and although she uses a variety of models in her work, has formed a particular interest in using cognitive behavioural therapy in child and family settings. She has provided training and consultation in CBT with children for professionals from a range of agencies, including health, education and social care. With Sandra Dunsmuir, she was centrally involved in the development of this aspect of the curriculum within the Educational Psychology Group at UCL. In 2008 Vicki, together with Peter Fuggle and Sandra Dunsmuir, was responsible for setting up the UCL/Anna Freud Centre Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma/MSc in CBT for Children and Young People; and more recently, she has been involved in the development and delivery of the UCL/KCL Child IAPT training programme. She is an associate editor of the BABCP online journal The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist; and secretary of the Child and Family Special Interest Group of the BABCP. She is co-author of a recent book on CBT for children, with Peter and Sandra.
Key InformationOptional qualifications: This degree is also available as a PG Diploma and a PG Certificate with fees set accordingly.Fees note: Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. The tuition fee schedule for 2016/17 entry can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.
Normally a minimum of a second-class UK Bachelor's degree or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard in a relevant subject (e.g. psychology) and/or professional qualification in a relevant subject. Additionally, applicants must have experience of working with children in education, health or social care settings and a work context that enables them to fulfil the programme requirements (including time to attend, and undertake case work and CBT with children). Please see 'who can apply' for further information.
English Language Requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.
The English language level for this programme is: Good
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.
Select your country:International equivalencies
Application and next steps
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.
Who can apply?
Current students are in a variety of jobs, both full and part-time, and both paid and voluntary. The types of work include: educational psychology, clinical psychology, primary care mental health, counselling, social work, behaviour support in schools, and various others. The job must allow the student access to children with whom they can practice CBT, and must provide the student with supervision. The supervisor must be an experienced child practitioner, with experience of therapeutic work with children and knowledge of the CBT model.
The application must include two references, one from a line manager, confirming the statements and evidence supplied by the applicant. Please check with the Programme Administrator if you have any queries.
- All applicants
- 31 May 2016
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
What are we looking for?When we assess your application we would like to learn:
- why you want to study this programme at graduate level
- why you want to study this programme at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to this programme
- how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this rigorous programme
- where you would like to go professionally with your qualification
Interviews will be held on 20th and 21st June 2016.
Our Admissions procedures have been devised in accordance with UCL Equalities policies covering equal opportunity, disability, race, sexual orientation and religious beliefs. Detailed information on each policy and the ways in which they are implemented and monitored can be found on the equalities page of the website.
It is a UCL policy that in the recruitment, selection, education and assessment of students the only consideration must be that the individual meets, or is likely to meet, the requirements of the programme or course. The requirements being met, no student will be discriminated against on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation, race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality (within current legislation), disability, marital status, caring or parental responsibilities, age or beliefs on matters such as religion and politics. We welcome applications irrespective of age, disability, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. It is our policy to encourage potential applicants from black and ethnic minority communities, and those with disabilities.
The programme is aimed at applicants in relevant employment and supports career progression.
Top career destinations for this degree
- Head of Virtual School, London Borough of Camden
- Educational Psychologist, Wokingham Borough Council
- Nurse Therapist (CBT), Cambridge and Peterborough Foundation Trust
- Clinical Psychologist, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust
- Team Manager, South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust
CBT for children and young people is one of a number of evidence-based interventions for common childhood problems and disorders. The demand for professionals with skills in this area in known to be high and is likely to grow. Students will have a (Certificate/Diploma/Master's) qualification in CBT with children and this will be much valued by employers looking to develop this type of intervention within their service. Several of our students have been funded by employers who want to increase their supervisory capacity in CBT and this is likely to be a trend that will continue.
Can you go straight into the Masters without completing the Certificate or Diploma?
No, you must complete the Certificate year to build up credits in order to progress to the Diploma, and then the Masters.
What is the time commitment?
Students are required to attend teaching on 12 or 13 scheduled days per year, these days will all be Tuesdays within term time. However, considerable additional time will be needed for reading, writing assignments and delivering interventions to children.
What kind of jobs are current students in?
Current students are in a variety of jobs, both full and part time, and both paid and voluntary. The types of work include; educational psychology, clinical psychology, primary care mental health, counselling, social work, behaviour support in schools, and various others. The job must allow the student access to children that they can practice CBT with; Students must see at least 2 cases in Certificate year, and another 3 in Diploma.
Who can act as a supervisor?
Students are required to demonstrate they have external supervisory arrangements throughout the course. An external supervisor must be an experienced child practitioner, with experience of therapeutic work with children and knowledge of the CBT model. They do not need to be “CBT experts”. Clinical supervision and case responsibility resides with students' individual supervisor and employer.
Are most students funded by their employer?
There is a mixture. Some students are funded by their employers, others are self funded. Students will need support and consent from their employers even if they are not being funded by their workplace.
What do students go on to do?
CBT with children is one of a number of evidence based interventions for common childhood problems and disorders. The demand for professionals with skills in this area is known to be high and is likely to grow. The (Certificate/Diploma/Masters) qualification in CBT with children will be much valued by employers looking to develop this type of intervention within their service.
Is this course appropriate for people working with children who have specific disorders such as autism?
It would be appropriate to work with some autism cases on the course, but you would also need access to other young people so that you can practice your CBT work with a variety of presenting problems.
Zoe, CBTCYP Alumni
Imogen, CBTCYP Alumni
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