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An introduction to Self Practice/Self Reflection

Richard Thwaites

16 May 2023


SP/SR is a training strategy with a growing evidence base for improving therapist skills and knowledge (Gale & Schröder, 2014). It was initially developed by James Bennett-Levy during the late 1990s (Bennett-Levy et al., 2001) and has subsequently been implemented in a range of formats, countries and settings (educational establishments and clinical services) across a range of participant groups, including trainee CBT therapists, newly qualified CBT therapists, experienced CBT therapists, trainee low intensity practitioners, experienced low intensity practitioners, trainee clinical psychologists and clinical psychologists. 

It has been described as

an integrative training strategy that links the declarative understandings of CBT with procedural skills; integrates the conceptual with the interpersonal and the technical; and enhances the channels of communication between the “therapist self” and the “personal self”. The self-experiential element of SP/ SR facilitates the links; reflection provides the glue 

(Bennett-Levy, Thwaites, Haarhoff & Perry, 2015)

The event will be equivalent to 1.1/2hrs of CPD.


This brief introduction will describe the initial and subsequent development of SP/SR as a training method. It will discuss the research and models underpinning it and most importantly will give attendees an opportunity to take part in a simple experiential self-practice exercise with follow-up self-reflection. Participants will not be asked to share personal information or any content of their exercise but can feedback on their experience of the process.

Learning Objectives

1. To provide a clear description of SP/SR and distinguish it from other types of self-practice (SP)
2. To provide an update on the evidence base for SP/SR across practitioner groups
3. To provide an experiential understanding of SP/SR through participants taking part in a series of experiential Self-Practice exercises with follow up Self-Reflection
4. To provide guidance & discussion around next steps in participating in an SP/SR programme
5. To provide best practice guidance for facilitating an SP/SR programme for trainees or colleagues

Training Modalities

Didactic content, brief experiential content, video clips and Q & A

Key References

Bennett-Levy, J. (2019). Why therapists should walk the talk: The theoretical and empirical case for personal practice in therapist training and professional development. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 62, 133–145.
Bennett-Levy, J., & Finlay-Jones, A. (2018). The role of personal practice in therapist skill development: A model to guide therapists, educators, supervisors and researchers. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 47(3), 185–205.
Bennett-Levy, J., Thwaites, R., Chaddock, A., & Davis, M. (2009). Reflective practice in cognitive behavioural therapy: the engine of lifelong learning. In Dallos, R., & Stedmon, J. (eds), Reflective Practice in Psychotherapy and Counselling (pp. 115–135). Open University Press
Bennett-Levy, J., Thwaites, R., Haarhoff, B., & Perry, H. (2015). Experiencing CBT from the inside out: A self-practice/self-reflection workbook for therapists. Guilford.
Freeston, M., Thwaites, R., & Bennett-Levy, J. (2019). ‘Courses for Horses’: Designing, adapting and implementing self practice/self-reflection programmes. The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, 12, E28. doi:10.1017/S1754470X19000138
Thwaites, R., Bennett-Levy, J., Davis, M., & Chaddock, A. (2014). Using self-practice and self-reflection (SP/SR) to enhance CBT competence and meta-competence. In A. Whittington & N. Grey (Eds.), How to become a more effective CBT therapist: Mastering metacompetence in clinical practice (pp. 241–254). Wiley-Blackwell.

About the presenter

Richard Thwaites is a CBT therapist and consultant clinical psychologist working within an IAPT service in North Cumbria (First Step). He is Editor-in-Chief of the cognitive behaviour therapist (BABCP practitioner journal). He has been involved in developing, delivering, and evaluating SP/SR programmes in the UK for almost twenty years with trainee CBT therapists, qualified CBT therapists, and psychological wellbeing practitioners. Richard co-authored CBT from the Inside Out: A Self-Practice/Self-Reflection Workbook for Therapists (2015) and Reflection in CBT (2017).

Who should attend

The event is suitable for all high and low intensity CBT practitioners who are interested in finding out more the ideas behind the use of Self-Practice/Self-Reflection (SP/SR) as a training strategy. It may also be of interest to supervisors and trainers who are considering using SP/SR.

Low Intensity clinical contact hours survey - BABCP Low Intensity Special Interest Group

Please click below if you are interested in contributing to the survey.


The BACP Low Intensity SIG are interested in the impact of clinical contact hours on Low Intensity/Wellbeing Practitioner wellbeing. This questionnaire contains six multi-choice questions and a free text box for you to share your experiences. The answers to these questions will help the BABCP SIG plan how to meet CPD topics and other developments within the SIG.  The SIG hope to produce a write up of the answers to this questionnaire to be shared with SIG members and to be used in training.

View Survey

This FREE conference is for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners working in Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression services and is brought to you by Bespoke Mental Health in collaboration with the NHS England Talking Therapies National PWP Leads Network

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