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The art of funnelling: Discovering meaning through Socratic dialogue

Helen Kennerley

25 Jan 2024


Socratic dialogue has been called “the cornerstone of cognitive therapy” (Padesky 1993) – but how many of us have wondered just what is meant by “Socratic dialogue”? How many of us have asked ourselves:  “How do other therapists do it?” ; “How do we do it well?”; “When should we not use Socratic dialogue?” This webinar addresses these questions.

The event will be equivalent to 2 hrs of CPD.


This webinar will explore the use of Socratic dialogue to discover relevant meanings underpinning our patients’ difficulties. It will present arguments, examples and guidelines for adopting this technique. This webinar will also consider reasons for not using this strategy, namely when it is more appropriate to use other forms of enquiry or information giving. There are many ways of using Socratic methods, so there will be reflection points to give attendees an opportunity to consider how they can develop their own “Socratic style”. Common therapist traps will also be highlighted, traps such as: seeking confirmation of our hypotheses, “psycho-bulldozing”, losing curiosity.

Learning Objectives

You will learn:
• What is Socratic dialogue
• Why use Socratic dialogue to explore meaning
• How to optimise Socratic dialogue
• Common therapist traps to avoid

Training Modalities

Didactic content, experiential components, video, Q&A.

Key References

Kennerley H,  Kirk J and Westbrook (2017) Chapter 7- Socratic Method. In: An Introduction to CBT: skills and application . London: Sage.

Padesky & Kennerley (2023). Dialogues for discovery: improving psychotherapy’s effectiveness. Oxford: Oxford University Press

About the presenter

Dr. Helen Kennerley is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist working with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and a Senior Associate Tutor with the University of Oxford. She is a founder member of the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre (OCTC), where she was formerly the Director of its Advanced Cognitive Therapy Studies courses and MSc, and co-director of the OCTC D.Phil. She is now the lead for the Postgraduate Certificates in Supervision & Training and in Psychological Trauma & Personality Development. She has practiced CBT for over 30 years, having trained in Oxford and the US. She has written several popular cognitive therapy self-help books and texts, some of which have been commended by the British Medical Association. She has a long standing interest in developing Socratic methods and co-edited “Dialogues for discovery” with Dr Christine Padesky (2023). She was short listed for the BABCP award of most influential female cognitive therapist in Britain.

Who should attend

All psychological therapists who wish to develop, refresh or refine the technique of Socratic dialogue.

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.

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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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