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Therapist drift: Why well-meaning clinicians mess up therapy (and how not to)

Glenn Waller

25 May 2021


While we have a range of effective psychological therapies that can help our patients to recover or improve in a meaningful way, that does not mean that clinicians always use them. In fact, the evidence suggests that when we do not use the evidence-based approaches, our effectiveness goes down by approximately two-thirds. So why do so many well-meaning clinicians fail to use the best approaches, and how can we enhance our effectiveness for the patients’ benefit?


This webinar will demonstrate the evidence that clinicians fail to use the most effective methods. It will use attendees’ experience and clinical research evidence to identify the ways in which our own characteristics and our service structures can be problematic. Finally, the webinar will consider ways in which we can enhance our delivery of effective psychological therapies, to improve our clinical outcomes.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the session, attendees will be able to:
1. Identify evidence of therapists and services drifting off protocol, and why it matters
2. Explain why we drift
3. Outline ways of preventing therapist drift in themselves, other clinicians, and teams

Training Modalities

 The presenter will use didactic presentation and Q&A.

Key References

Waller, G. (2009). Evidence-based treatment and therapist drift. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 47, 119-127.

Waller, G. & Turner, H. (2016). Therapist drift redux: Why well-meaning clinicians fail to deliver evidence-based therapy, and how to get back on track. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 77, 129-137.

About the presenter

Glenn Waller is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Sheffield, UK. His clinical and academic specialisms are evidence-based CBT for eating disorders, and why clinicians drift from effective treatment. He has published over 320 peer-reviewed papers, 20 book chapters and four books in the field, and regularly presents workshops at national and international meetings. He is Chair of the BABCP Scientific Committee. He is past president of the international Academy for Eating Disorders, and is on the editorial board of Behaviour Research and Therapy. He was a member of the NICE Eating Disorders Guideline Development Group, responsible for the 2017 update to the eating disorders guideline.

Who should attend

Clinicians, supervisors, trainees and managers who are eager to ensure that they and their service are aware of how therapist drift can substantially impair their clinical outcomes, and who want to do something about it.

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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