UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Low Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Interventions Postgraduate Certificate

This certificate provides the formal training required to qualify as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP). The training is a combination of teaching at UCL, university directed practice-based, learning and clinical practice under supervision in an NHS funded service. Students on the programme will have a training contract as a trainee PWP within an NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Service, where they will deliver low intensity cognitive behavioural interventions for anxiety and depression. Students are funded to train and qualify on the job. Funding is for a year fixed term contract.

PWP training is anticipated to be run face to face at UCL, with some online learning. Therefore, all applicants should be prepared to be coming into Central London for their training at UCL. All trainees are employed in an IAPT service and will be expected to attend work in the office for at least part of the week.
The above is subject to the easing of the lockdown continuing. Should this change, then the requirement to come into both UCL and into your IAPT service will be reviewed alongside government and NHS guidance.

Start date:There are intakes each academic year starting October / February
Duration: 1 year
Tuition Fees: 

UK/EU: Students are not able to self fund. See Application section. (FT)

Overseas: Students are not able to self fund. See Application section. (FT)

Course Aims and Principles

The need to train more practitioners in evidence-based psychological interventions for people with anxiety and depression was recognised by the government in establishing the Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) Services programme in England in 2008. Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs) are a new type of NHS funded role created to meet this need.

IAPT services are NHS funded services in England that provide advice and psychological treatments for people with anxiety disorders and depression. They treat approximately 500,000 people a year. Within IAPT services, PWPs provide assessment, advice and brief self-help based psychological interventions. The PWP Best Practice Guide (PWP Best Practice) describes the role.

The aim of this course is to train people to work as qualified PWPs within IAPT services. The course is accredited by the British Psychological Society as an accredited PWP training course (BPS UCL Accreditation).


Objectives and Outcomes

Trainees on this programme will gain the knowledge necessary for providing low intensity interventions for clients with mild to moderate depression and anxiety in their primary healthcare work setting, together with the clinical skills essential to assess and engage clients, and to deliver interventions within a guided self-help model.

Why Study at UCL?

The UCL course is run and taught by experienced practitioners in the field, and therefore a balance is achieved between the teaching of the theoretical knowledge needed and the practical skills necessary in training as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWP).

Students will receive employment and practical experience in an Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Service alongside this formal training needed in order to become a qualified Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner.

Who is the programme for?

Applicants are required to show evidence of ability to study successfully at postgraduate level and have experience in an employed or formal volunteer helping role with people with psychological, interpersonal or social problems. They should have a broad understanding of mental health issues and ability to form a good helping relationship with people with mental health problems, obtained through work or volunteer experience. Applicants should also have good communication skills and the ability to use clinical supervision and personal development positively and effectively.



The training programme lasts a year during which trainees study one day a week at UCL and work four days a week under supervision in NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Services. The course programme consists of three core modules (20 credits each) which are based on the National Curriculum for the Education of Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners PWP Review Curriculum.

Teaching and Assessment

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, workshops, skills practice, clinical seminar skills groups, directed reading and e-learning. Assessments are through a combination of written and oral assignments. Written assignments include an examination, case reports, and reflective accounts. Oral assignments are role-play client sessions and supervision sessions.

The course is modular. All modules are compulsory, and the module titles are listed below.

  • Recognition: Engagement and Assessment of Patients with Common Mental
    Health Problems
  • Recovery: Evidence-based Low-Intensity Treatment for Common Mental Health Disorders
  • Respect and Reflection: Diversity and Context in Low Intensity-Working

This programme is 45 days in total: 25 are University-based and an additional 20 days are spent in directed study. The course is delivered one day a week, over 3 terms. It incorporates a variety of teaching methods including workshops, skills practice, clinical seminar skills groups, directed reading and e-learning.

The course starts with an intensive block at the start of the course, introducing trainees to the LI course, IAPT and Low Intensity work within a stepped care and primary health care context. Intensive skills days aim to equip trainees with an understanding of depression and anxiety, and the clinical skills essential to assess and engage clients, and to deliver low intensity interventions within a guided self help model. Subsequent course days continue to teach low intensity interventions and the contextual factors associated with their delivery. These include working with diversity and applications to different client groups, the impact of high volume low intensity working and using supervision to support this. Teaching in smaller seminar groups provides an opportunity to integrate and apply learning to clinical cases. Trainees present clinical cases on a rotating basis for group discussion around a particular clinical theme.


The assessments are a combination of written and oral assignments in each module. Written assignments include an exam, essay, case reports, reflective accounts and clinical logs. Oral assignments are recordings of client sessions. All assessments need to be passed and contribute to the award of the Diploma.


Entry Requirements

Applicants for a UCL postgraduate programme are normally expected to hold at least a 2.2 in a UK undergraduate degree (or equivalent overseas qualification). But other academic qualifications of an equivalent standard and substantial work experience and achievements at work demonstrating ability to study successfully at a postgraduate level can be taken into account. Overseas applicants need to provide evidence of proficiency in English.

In addition, applicants for this programme are required to have:

  • evidence of experience in an employed or formal volunteer helping role with people with psychological, interpersonal or social problems
  • evidence of a broad understanding of mental health issues and ability to form a good helping relationship with people with mental health problems, obtained through study, work or volunteer experience with people who have experienced a mental health problem
  • evidence of a broad understanding of NHS primary care and mental health services
  • excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • good organisational and computer skills: word processing and data processing
  • the ability to use clinical supervision and personal development positively and effectively

Useful Resource
A webinar that a London service has produced that provides information on what IAPT is, the importance of a diverse workforce, how to apply and become a PWP and a day in the life of a PWP/ myth busting about IAPT and PWP role.

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7bFcfB3FRg


Application Process

UCL and the IAPT services in which trainees are employed during training jointly appoint candidates. UCL leads on the process and application is via UCL Admissions. An application to the UCL course is also an application for employment in one of the London IAPT services and applicants are required to specify two preferred London IAPT service choices. UCL tutors and IAPT service managers jointly shortlist and interview applicants. Successful applicants are then employed in IAPT services subject to successful pre-employment checks and enrolled on the UCL course subject to academic checks.

Deadline for Applications


The Postgraduate Certificate is the formal training required as part of the student's employment as an IAPT Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner. Trainee PWPs are appointed at NHS band 4 and upon successful completion of the programme will move to being qualified PWPs. It is anticipated that trainees will stay in these positions after completing the programme working as a qualified PWP in an IAPT service.

For further details, please visit the NHS Careers website: NHS Careers Website

Training is full time and, after training, part-time, job-share and other flexible working arrangements are possible.

Options for career development beyond the PWP role include progression to become a Senior PWP, IAPT Team Leader/Service Manager or to pursue a career in related fields such as IAPT high intensity therapy, nursing, teaching, speech and language therapy, social work and clinical psychology.

Department: Division of Psychology and Language Sciences
Contact Email:pwprecruitment@ucl.ac.uk

Joint Programme Directors

Professor Stephen Pilling

Stephen Pilling is the Director of the British Psychological Society’s Centre for Outcomes Research and Effectiveness (CORE) based in the Research Department of Clinical Education and Health Psychology, University College London where his focus is on health service research including clinical trials in schizophrenia and depression, in particular low intensity interventions. He developed with Tony Roth the CBT competence framework which contributed to the IAPT training syllabus on which this course is based. He is also the Joint Director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH), which is responsible for developing the mental health clinical practice guideline for NICE guidelines, and is a partnership between the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society. He works as Consultant Clinical Psychologist for Camden and Islington Foundation Trust.

Dr Rachel Newman

Rachel Newman is Joint Programme Director of the Low Intensity Course at UCL and is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist. Until 2011, she was additionally the Service Lead for the Primary Care Mental Health Service in Islington until moving to focus on the IAPT courses. She had a leading role in the development of supervision, management and training of primary care mental health workers in Islington, and in the development of low intensity interventions locally. She has considerable experience in cognitive behavioural therapy having completed a post graduate diploma in CBT at Royal Holloway. At UCL she has contributed to the work on developing core competencies in CBT with Stephen Pilling and Tony Roth, using this as a basis to develop and deliver a one year postgraduate course in CBT at UCL for psychologists working in Camden & Islington. She sits on the BPS PWP Accreditation Committee and is an External Examiner for an IAPT High Intensity Course.

Eyes Wide Open Event
Student Testimonial

Testimonials from current trainee PWPs

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MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/98FAbE3e