top of page

Meta-Competencies in CBT: Enhancing your efficacy as a therapist by being self-reflective, communicative, creative, tuned-in, well-timed, well-read, and inspirational! 

Cory Newman

14 Mar 2024


The core competencies of cognitive-behavioural therapy, both in general and when applied to specific clinical concerns, have been well-documented. There are many seminal sources that guide us to conceptualize cases and to use CBT techniques that fit well with the client’s needs. This is all well and good, as there is a healthy database attesting to the efficacy of many CBT procedures and protocols. Nevertheless, this is not the entire story. Yes, assessing a client’s problems and applying CBT techniques are necessary competencies if we are to provide clients with efficacious treatment. However, to optimize the benefits of CBT requires that we as therapists work to improve our meta-competencies, which are the methods that facilitate clients’ investment in treatment and help clients to internalize and maintain what they have gained. Meta-competencies represent therapist characteristics and qualities that help them to bring the best of their interpersonal skills to bear on maximizing therapeutic bonding and collaboration with their clients. Further, meta-competencies include skills in the areas of communication (e.g., being very clear), organization and attention (e.g., staying on track in session whilst allowing for important digressions), timing (e.g., knowing when to make a point, and when to wait), creativity (e.g., using stories, metaphors, analogies, images), and being motivational (e.g., inspiring clients in a state of despair to want to live, and to believe in themselves). 

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


This webinar will describe and illustrate the “meta-competencies” of conducting CBT. The presentation will build upon the evidence-based methods that are well-described in CBT manuals by highlighting therapist competencies that amplify the efficacy of CBT. Meta-competencies reflect the qualities and practices of individual therapists that show promise in helping their clients experience CBT with as much positive impact and staying power as possible. Some meta-competencies are closely related to some of the broad “foundational competencies,” including relational skills, cultural humility, and self-reflection. Other meta-competencies include an ability to communicate concepts and care very clearly to clients; having a good sense of timing and humour; being well-organized within sessions and across sessions for optimal continuity; possessing a good memory (e.g., for the facts of the client’s life) and similarly helping the client to remember the key lessons of therapy; using enlightening stories, images, metaphors, and analogies to make complex ideas accessible; bringing inter-disciplinary knowledge from a wide range of subjects and experiences into the therapeutic dialogue; and otherwise using words and gestures in creative ways to inspire clients to make important changes. Going beyond CBT competencies to develop our meta-competencies means that we are using the best of our personal strengths and styles in the service of sound, well-supported practices. It means that we are not just using techniques – we are also bringing our conceptual and relational skills to bear on each moment with our clients, speaking and listening effectively, being responsive to clients’ feedback, and making therapy inspirational and memorable.

Learning Objectives

1. Maximize your interpersonal skills in the delivery of cognitive-behavioural therapy.
2. Utilize case conceptualization skills and cross-cultural sensitivity to assist in knowing what to say to clients, and what not to say to clients.
3. Practice self-reflection during therapy sessions and between sessions to adapt and improve your delivery of cognitive-behavioural therapy.
4. Bring your inter-disciplinary knowledge and creative thinking to therapy sessions to amplify your therapeutic messages, improve the client’s retention of the contents of therapy, and provide inspiration.

Training Modalities

Didactic presentation with slides.
Vignettes that illustrate the clinical methods being described.
Q & A

Key References

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 Press.

Castonguay, L. G., & Hill, C. E. (Eds.) (2017). How and why are some therapists better than others? American Psychological Association.

Harvey, A. G., Lee, J., Smith. R. L., Gumport, N. B., Hollon, S. D., Rabe-Hesketh, S., et al. (2016). Improving outcome for mental disorders by enhancing memory for treatment. Behaviour Therapy and Research, 81, 35-46.

Roth, A. D., & Pilling, S. (2007). The competencies required to deliver effective cognitive and behavioural therapy for people with depression and people with anxiety disorders. London, England: Department of Health.

Stott, R., Mansell, W., Salkovskis, P., Lavender, A., & Cartwright-Hatton, S. (2010). Oxford guide to metaphors in CBT. Oxford University Press.

Whittingdon, A., & Grey, N. (Eds.) (2014). How to be a more effective CBT therapist: Mastering meta-competencies in clinical practice. Wiley Blackwell.

About the presenter

Cory F. Newman, Ph.D. is Director of the Center for Cognitive Therapy, Professor of Psychology, in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine (in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA), and Adjunct Faculty at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Prof. Newman did his postdoctoral training under the mentorship of Prof. Aaron T. Beck, and he is a Founding Fellow of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Prof. Newman has maintained a full clinical caseload and has extensive experience as a CBT supervisor, having supervised over 350 professionals-in-training, both at the University of Pennsylvania, and through the Beck Institute’s international training programs. Prof. Newman was recognized by the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy with the Outstanding Clinician Award for 2019. Prof. Newman is an international lecturer, having presented approximately 300 cognitive-behavioural therapy workshops and seminars at home in the U.S. as well as in twenty-three other countries. Prof. Newman is author of over 100 articles and chapters on cognitive-behavioural therapy for a wide range of disorders and clinical issues, and he has authored or co-authored six books, including two with Prof. Aaron T. Beck. On the side, Prof. Newman is an avid classical pianist.

Who should attend

This presentation is suitable for mental health practitioners across disciplines and substance use counsellors. Therapists who practice low-intensity CBT as well as standard-course CBT will benefit from this presentation, as will clinicians of all levels of experience.

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

bottom of page