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Practising what we preach: A workshop on low intensity behavioural experiments

Prof. Roz Shafran & Pam Myles-Hooton

Tuesday, 5 November 2024


Behavioural experiments (BEs) can be a powerful form of experiential learning when working with a patient’s negative thoughts. Although BEs have only recently been added to the PWP national curriculum, the Reach Out manual (Richards & Whyte, 2011) which was designed to support the training of practitioners delivering low intensity CBT (LICBT) laid the foundations for the use of BEs when working with patients presenting with panic disorder.  While ‘Behavioural’ suggests a focus on changing a behaviour, a BE aims to change an unhelpful thought identified during cognitive restructuring (a key technique from the LICBT armoury).  The change in the thought takes place through experimentation of a new behaviour leading to new evidence to question the validity of the unhelpful thought.  Marrinan (2019) and Grist (2020) have built on the foundation laid by Richards and Whyte to help practitioners use behavioural experiments successfully in their practice.  LICBT BEs target unhelpful thoughts linked with the presenting problem in the here and now rather than focusing on a deeper level of cognition as one would see in High Intensity CBT.  Behavioural experiments can be a highly effective strategy to follow on from cognitive restructuring (CR) in low intensity working.

The event will be equivalent to 2.3/4hrs of CPD.


This workshop will:
• Provide a theoretical basis for using behavioural experiments in LICBT
• Consider specific factors associated with LICBT interventions based on CR combined with BE
• How to recognise when it may be useful to use BEs
• Consider common difficulties when using BEs and how they can be overcome
Share some top tips on how to get the most out of using BEs with clients

Learning Objectives

You will learn:
• When behavioural experiments may enhance LICBT practice
• How to plan behavioural experiments with patients
• What to do next when an experiment goes well
• What to do when an experiment does not go to plan

Training Modalities

Didactic content, live demos, experiential components, polls, Q&A.

Key References

Bennett-Levy, J., Butler, G., Fennell, M., Hackman, A., Mueller, M., & Westbrook, D. (Eds). (2004). Oxford guide to behavioural experiments in cognitive therapy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Grist, S. (2020). ‘Cognitive Interventions – A Thought is Just a Thought’ in Farrand, P. (ed). Low-intensity CBT Skills and Interventions: A Practitioner’s Manual. London: Sage, pp 191-206.

Marrinan, T. (2019). ‘Treatment Strategies’ in Papworth, M. & Marrinan, T. (eds). Low Intensity Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: A Practitioner’s Guide (second edition). London: Sage, pp 221-279.

Myles, P. & Shafran, R. (2015). ‘Behavioural Experiments’ in The CBT Handbook: A comprehensive guide to using CBT to overcome depression, anxiety and anger. London: Robinson, pp 256-292.

Richards, D. & Whyte, M. (2011). Reach Out (third edition). London: Rethink.

Wells, A. (1997). ‘Behavioural Experiments’ in Cognitive Therapy of Anxiety Disorders: A Practice Manual And Conceptual. Chichester: John Wiley & sons, pp 80-84.

About the presenter

Roz Shafran is Professor of Translational Psychology at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health. She has over 300 publications in the field of the development and evaluation of cognitive behavioural theory and therapy across the age range both for specific disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder and transdiagnostic problems such as loneliness and perfectionism. With Pamela Myles-Hooton and other colleagues, she has published the proposed definition of 'low intensity cognitive behaviour therapy’ and has edited a textbook on low intensity psychological interventions for children and young people.   She is the recipient of several awards including the Eric Taylor Award for Translational Research Into Practice Award given by the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.  

Pam Myles-Hooton is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP).  She is experienced in developing and delivering training programmes in high intensity and low intensity evidence-based psychological interventions as part of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), now Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression (TTad) at the University of Reading from 2008-2019.  She developed a low intensity CBT training programme for NHS Education for Scotland in 2020 and is the author of several educational texts, academic publications, and self-help books. Pam has contributed to national guidance and curricula (including the LICBT curriculum for long-term physical health conditions and the latest revision of the PWP national curriculum). Pam sits on the British Psychological Society's (BPS) course accreditation committee for psychological wellbeing practitioners and is a long-term member of the National Talking Therapies Expert Advisory Group.

Who should attend

This webinar is most suitable for practitioners delivering low intensity CBT interventions for patients in primary care settings presenting with depression and anxiety.

Details coming soon

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