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Under pressure: Leading Low Intensity CBT teams with compassion

Sarah Watts

27 Sept 2023


Leading teams of Low Intensity CBT Therapists is a busy, high pressured and stressful role. Balancing the demands of contractual obligations with diverse employee needs, whilst aiming to deliver high quality and effective services, involves containing the inevitable tensions and conflicts that arise between these competing pressures. In the absence of a framework to reflect on these conflicts, stress can mount and become overwhelming, prompting leaders to adopt unhelpful leadership styles that undermine relationships with employees and contribute to ruptures and fragmentation in teams, creating downward spirals of employee satisfaction and productivity. 

In contrast, Compassionate Leadership is a model that focuses on fostering positive and strong relationships with individuals and teams within an inclusive culture where those we lead feel respected and valued and where healthy conflict can be expressed, contained, understood and resolved. Evidence shows it can maximise employee satisfaction and productivity by optimally tailoring workplace tasks, messages and leadership styles to the developmental stages and needs of employees so everyone can reach their potential and deliver the highest quality service to clients (West et al., 2017). Crucially, it strives to create an environment that models for, and develops, the next generation of compassionate leaders.

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


The workshop will provide a framework for :
• Thinking about the competing and conflicting demands of different stakeholders.
• Understanding the developmental stages and needs of employees and teams.
• Identifying helpful and unhelpful leadership styles and matching these with stages of development.
• Identifying, exploring and repairing individual and team ruptures.

Learning Objectives

You will learn:
• How to recognise unhelpful leadership styles and understand how these impact on individuals and teams.
• How to adopt Compassionate Leadership and apply this in different contexts.
• How to identify an employee’s stage of development and the optimal style of leadership required.
• What to do when signs of potential rupture emerge and strategies for exploring, containing and repairing them when they do occur.

Training Modalities

Didactic content, experiential components, Questions & Answers.

Key References

Rodic, M. & Maric, S. (2021). Leadership Style and Employee Readiness: basic factors of leadership efficacy. Strategic Management, 26(1), 53-65.

Safran, J.D. & Muran. J.C. (1996). The Resolution of Ruptures in the Therapeutic Alliance. Journal of Counselling and Clinical Psychology, 64(3), 447-458.

West, M., Eckert, R., Collins, B., & Chowla, R. (2017). Caring to change: How compassionate leadership can stimulate innovation in health care. London: The Kings Fund.

About the presenter

Dr Sarah Watts is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and CBT Therapist with 25 years’ experience of working in the NHS. She is the Clinical Director at Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Wellbeing Service.  Her clinical interests are in working with people with post-traumatic stress disorder and with older people with complex needs who experience anxiety. She is a keen advocate of compassionate leadership in teams, looking after staff wellbeing so that staff can provide therapy for their patients in the best way possible. Sarah is also Programme Director of the Post Graduate Diploma in CBT run by MPFT in partnership with Staffordshire University and NHSE/I Clinical Lead for Talking Therapies in the Midlands. 

Who should attend

This webinar is most suitable for those who are currently in leadership roles and may be of interest to those who are aspiring to take on such roles in the near future.

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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