Postgraduate Diploma in High Intensity Psychological Interventions (HIPI) - CBT Psychotherapist training

The programme is designed to train clinicians to deliver consistently competent CBT for common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety disorders, at Step 3 of the IAPT Stepped Care Model.


Our accredited PG Dip in High Intensity Psychological Interventions provides a 1 year course leading to qualification as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist eligible for practitioner accreditation with the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists (BABCP). 

The programme trains highly skilled clinicians in the core competencies to deliver high quality CBT for common mental health problems such as Depression and Anxiety Disorders.  The course is part of the national Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme which delivers high quality, evidence based psychology treatment to patients with common mental health problems, in primary care setting across England.

Trainees will learn assessment, formulation and treatment protocols from the CBT competency framework and are expected to follow these protocols in clinical practice during their training. The design of the academic programme reflects the IAPT stepped care service context, in which trainees work during their training year.

Assessment is organised around the IAPT National Curriculum and Competency Framework.

Trainees must evidence their knowledge and competence in order to complete the programme.

The Course strives to integrate behavioural and cognitive theory and practice, with an emphasis on problem-based learning.

High intensity trainees will examine the theoretical basis of CBT with the reflective application of such knowledge within a critical scientist-practitioner stance.

Duration 1 year
Start Date Oct - July (Thurs/Fri) and March - Dec (Tue/Wed)
Compulsory modules

All modules on the HIPI course are compulsory.  Trainees must pass all modules to complete the course.

  1. Fundamentals of CBT
  2. CBT for Anxiety Disorders
  3. CBT for Depression
Placement The trainee will be employed directly by a local  IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) Service.  They will attend university 2 days per week whilst working clinically on the remaining 3 days
How to Apply

Applications to this programme may only be made through IAPT services recruiting trainees and not directly through the University of Sheffield. Posts are typically advertised by services on NHS Jobs.

Entry Requirements

Recruitment is carried out jointly by the IAPT services and the University course team. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed at the associated IAPT service with a member of the University's IAPT teaching team on the panel, and the interview will include a role play. The candidate must be deemed successful by both the service and the IAPT tutor (in terms of the HIPI training course requirements) in order to confirm a place on the programme. The University course team is aware that applicants may apply to more than one IAPT service and in this instance may share the outcome of your interview with all the IAPT services you have applied to.

Recruitment is carried out jointly by the IAPT services and the University course team. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed at the associated IAPT service with a member of the University's IAPT teaching team on the panel, and the interview will include a role play. The candidate must be deemed successful by both the service and the IAPT tutor (in terms of the HIPI training course requirements) in order to confirm a place on the programme. For more information, please see the HIPI Selection - Candidate Information Pack

The programme is of 1-year duration and attendance on the programme is a requirement of the trainee posts. Trainees need to pass the course to continue in employment. Further information and examples of person specifications/job descriptions can be found on the NHS health careers website.

The HIPI programme is currently only open to people employed within local IAPT services, with their places funded by Health Education England. 

The course has 2 intakes of trainees per year and therefore recruitment is a rolling process with jobs being advertised between April and July for the October intakes and October to January for the March intake.  

Candidates must not be enrolled on any other HEI training or educational programme at the time of training.

Candidates who have previously been enrolled and not completed a funded HIPI IAPT training course must provide evidence and reference from the previous HEI about extenuating circumtcnes that lead to withdrawal from the course.  Previously funded applicants who have withdrawn without extenuating circumstance, or who have been excluded from a HIPI course, are not eligible to apply.

Candidates who have already completed a CBT course meeting the BABCP minimum training standards for accreditation are not eligible to apply.

Qualifications required

Candidates must be able to demonstrate learning equivalent to level 6 higher education study.  This needs to be evidenced by a formal qualification, preferably in a health or psychology related subject.  A candidate may have an undergraduate degree in a different subject, however the course would require evidence of additional study in a health or psychology related subject from the candidate. Ideally, this would also be at level 6, however other levels of formal qualification in a health or psychology related subject, in conjunction with a previous level 6 qualification, will be considered.

Candidates from registered professional backgrounds are encouraged to apply to the HIPI course and will find they have a variety of transferable skills relevant to the course and role.

Recognised core professions are:

  • Arts Therapists – Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Registered
  • Counselling – Accreditation with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP), Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA), OR Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals’ National Counsellor Accreditation Certificate (FDAP NCAC).
  • Medicine – Psychiatrist or General Practitioner, MBChB or MBBS, and usually PG training with membership of MRCGP, MRCP or MRCPsych
  • Occupational Therapy – BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy, MSc Occupational Therapy, OR Diploma of the College of Occupational Therapists (DipCOT) and HCPC Registered
  • Psychotherapy/ Psychotherapeutic Counselling – United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) Registered
  • Registered Nurse – Mental Health (RMN), or Learning Disability
  • Social Work – Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW), Diploma in Social Work (DipSW), MA Social Work, or BA/BSc Hons Social Work. Registered with one of four UK regulators - Social Work England (SWE), Social Care Wales (SCW), Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) and Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)
  • Postgraduate Doctorate in Clinical/Counselling Psychology - accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and HCPC Registered as Practitioner Psychologist
  • Educational Psychology - Doctorate or Qualification in Educational Psychology Stage 2 (QEPS) - must have BPS Chartership (CPsychol) and HCPC Registration as Practitioner Psychologist
  • Health Psychology – Qualification in Health Psychology Stage 2 (QHP) - must have BPS Chartership (CPsychol) and HCPC Registration as Practitioner Psychologist
  • Forensic Psychology – Qualification in Forensic Psychology Stage 2 (QFP) - must have BPS Chartership (CPsychol) and HCPC Registration as Practitioner Psychologist

Candidates who do not have a core professional background and qualification are also welcome and encouraged to apply to the course and will need to provide a completed KSA portfolio at selection.

A KSA portfolio has a number of criteria which must all be met by every applicant. There are some backgrounds which mean that the applicant has already met a number of the criteria, and can therefore provide a condensed KSA. Other backgrounds mean that the applicant must complete all of the sections. Further details on the KSA, and what sections candidates must complete, can be found on the BABCP website:

Candidates from a core professional background should demonstrate a minimum of 2 years post qualification experience. Candidates from a non-registered professional background will need to demonstrate a minimum of 2 years post qualification experience alongside their ability to meet the relevant criteria outlined in the KSA. 

Please see IAPT CBT Criteria for applicants and Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Course Content/ Aims

Overall, the course will provide opportunities for trainees to develop and demonstrate knowledge, understanding and skills in the following areas:

  • Critical knowledge of the theoretical and research literature related to BT and CBT for anxiety and depression as dictated by the CBT competencies framework.
  • Critical knowledge of the treatment protocols for the anxiety disorders and depression included on the CBT competencies framework.
  • Competency in the effective delivery of BT and CBT for anxiety and depression using the treatment protocols on the CBT competency framework.
  • To work effectively with patients from a diverse range of backgrounds, understanding and respecting the impact of difference and diversity upon their lives
  • Take personal responsibility for clinical decision making in straightforward and more complex situations.
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving therapeutic problems.
  • Operate as “scientist practitioners” advancing their knowledge and understanding and developing skills to a high level.
  • Demonstrate a systematic knowledge of the principles of CBT and the evidence base for the application of CBT techniques.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the theoretical and research evidence for cognitive behaviour models and an ability to evaluate such evidence.
  • Demonstrate a systematic knowledge of the limitations of BT and CBT for depression and anxiety disorders.
  • Demonstrate an ability to sensitively adapt BT and CBT, and ensure equitable access across diverse cultures, values and abilities.
  • To work with cultural competency within a varied social, work and clinical context.
  • To manage personal learning agenda and self-care.

Further details about the CBT Core competencies are found here:

Further details of the core curriculum can be found here:


The Postgraduate Diploma is a full-time programme, consisting of 2 days per week attendance at University for teaching and 3 days per week working in the service employer.

The teaching team is comprised of IAPT teachers who are highly experienced, qualified, accredited CBT Therapists.  They are all experienced supervisors and are currently employed in a range clinical of settings delivering CBT.

The programme begins in October or March with a 2-week introductory teaching block where trainees are required to attend University for the full 5 days in both weeks.  The introductory block consists of academic teaching, grounding in clinical assessment skills, awareness of the generic CBT model and programme acclimatisation. The main purpose of the introductory block is to prepare trainees for the Screening Observed Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) that takes place before trainees commence their clinical work.

At university trainees receive 1.5 days of teaching and lectures per week. Additionally, they receive 2 hours of weekly group clinical supervision with an accredited supervisor and additional tutorials and self-practice self reflection groups interspersed through the year.  Trainees will learn via didactic lectures, skills practice, demonstrations, modelling, role plays, small group work, reflective exercises and self-practice tasks.

Assessment is via a Screening OSCE, case studies, case-based literature reviews, clinical therapy recordings and a final practice portfolio. Trainees’ clinical and organisational competency is also assessed though a report completed by their service supervisor at two points throughout the programme. 


Trainees will qualify as Cognitive Behavioural Therapists eligible for full practitioner accreditation with the BABCP.  Many trainee positions are permanent roles based within their employing IAPT service, conditional upon qualification from the course.  Where a permanent role is not contracted, trainees will be eligible to apply for CBT Therapists roles within a range of mental health settings within the NHS, 3rd sector organisations or private practice.  Post qualification our trainees often develop and consolidate their clinical skills before developing in a range of areas to include CBT clinical supervision, CBT for Long Term Conditions, clinical leadership roles, managerial roles and teaching roles


Enquires can be directed to the IAPT Administrator at

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