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COVID-19 pandemic: Guidance for members working towards BABCP practitioner accreditation 

This guidance is for people training in CBT and working towards individual CBT practitioner accreditation where this has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Individuals can continue to develop and demonstrate competence in CBT and we intend this guidance to support and advise on measures to maintain continuity as far as possible while the impact of the pandemic continues.

We are expecting this guidance to be in place during the impact of the pandemic, and until September 2022, subject to review. This update was issued 11 January 2021.

We have separate guidance for BABCP accredited programmes [PDF] and for accredited therapists maintaining their practice, supervision and CPD.

  • Practitioners, training providers, supervisors and services are expected to follow current NHS and government guidance on appropriate safety, security and health. 
  • Duty of care and protection of the public are paramount, and flexibility can be used to support adaptations to methods of delivery of therapy and timeframes, for example. 
  • We are not reducing or changing any of our standards. See our Minimum Training Standards (MTS).
  • Any changes must also be consistent with our Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics and Data Protection legislation, including GDPR.
  • Training providers are expected to provide advice on safety, attendance and assessment.
  • We expect that services will support practitioners’ wellbeing in the circumstances, in particular if they are working in isolation or are facing additional challenges as a result of the pandemic.
  • We expect that people working towards accreditation and training providers will continue to ensure that diversity and inclusion are considered in all aspects of recruitment, learning, supervision and delivery of therapy, with specific attention to any specific additional impact that the pandemic has on particular groups.

We are grateful for the input of colleagues in all of the home nations, and their commitment to ensuring quality CBT training and provision in difficult circumstances.

Individuals working towards practitioner accreditation are invited to consider how they will gather evidence that they have met the Minimum Training Standards if the usual means of demonstrating this have changed.

Teaching and learning CBT

The key guidance is to consider how CBT courses are facilitating students in demonstrating competence and skills in delivering CBT change methods. There is specific guidance issued for our accredited courses.

The Minimum Training Standards require 200 hours’ face to face teaching, with up to 20% delivered by distance learning with a ‘real-time/live’ interactive element.  During the impact of the pandemic, we will recognise teaching delivered using only remote means as long as:

  • Students are able to interact in real time, take part in discussion and ask questions
  • The teaching includes the opportunity for small group work
  • The teaching includes the opportunity for skills development, such as demonstrations and role play
  • The expectation of a 50:50 ratio of theoretical to skills teaching is followed

Where CBT programmes have delivered teaching according to the above, the taught content will be regarded as contributing to the MTS.

Students will be expected to have opportunities to learn and follow appropriate guidance on use of remote formats to deliver CBT, and courses or placements may offer this. The principle is that students and trainees should always be appropriately supported and clinically supervised in their placement. Further guidance can be found on our website.

In particular, students/therapists must consider whether use of different modes of delivery will have an impact on access for any particular group. For example when someone has additional needs which may be affected by changes in modes of delivery of care. This may including access to equipment and technology and training in their use for both the student and the client. The client’s privacy and digital security must be considered as well as how to mitigate any potential shortcomings.

Assessment

The Minimum Training Standards must be met, in terms of assessing competence in clinical practice and theoretical understanding according to our current expectations.

Adaptations to assessments may be required during the pandemic, and this will be guided by the training institution’s policy on assessments in these circumstances. The MTS must still be met for assessment.

CPD events and further training can be used to meet required hours: please see further guidance on CPD.

Leave of absence: More people than usual may need to take leave due to illness, self-isolation or caring responsibilities. While it is anticipated that the usual training provider’s processes will be followed for such leave, it is recognised that students may need to extend their training in order to meet the requirements for accreditation.

Clinical work during training

The requirement for 200 hours’ face to face clinical contact to meet MTS: Appropriate consent forms for online/remote working and recording of sessions for clinical supervision should be adapted and used where modes of delivery are changing.

Where students are delivering sessions via video-conferencing or telephone as a result of the public health emergency, they can ‘count’ these towards their 200 hours’ face to face contact during the period of time covered by this document.

There is still an expectation that face to ‘in person’ sessions will take place during training where this is possible, and that therapists will ensure that they are appropriately trained and supervised in this mode of delivery before offering in person sessions; whether or not they have graduated from their CBT training before contact restrictions are removed. 

We have issued guidance on the evidence for remote delivery and adaptation of specific change methods, with webinars available to members (login required)

This means that while students are able to accumulate clinical hours towards meeting Minimum Training Standards, their clinical placement activity should also take account of interventions and competencies in delivering change methods which they need to develop, and whether working remotely has an impact on this.

Interventions delivered via telephone only: Appropriate consent, security and data protection must be in place. Forms for online/remote working and recording of sessions for clinical supervision should be adapted and used where modes of delivery are changing.

Appropriately delivered telephone interventions which are as a result of the outbreak will be ‘counted’ towards the 200 hours face to face contact required for the period of time covered by this document. The situation will be reviewed and guidance updated as appropriate to changes taking place.

Clinical work with Children and Young People, and Evidence-based parenting training

At the start of the impact of the pandemic, very few CYP services were set up for telephone/video-conferencing/remote delivery. A considerable amount of work has been put into adaptations, while it is recognised that family interventions may be particularly challenging.

Courses and placements will continue to consider issues around consent, technology, privacy and how sessions may be set up.

If it is not possible to deliver interventions appropriate to learning, the most appropriate course of action may be to extend the students’ training.

Clinical supervision

The Minimum Training Standards must still be met for clinical supervision, taking into account the needs of students delivering CBT remotely.

We will recognise clinical supervision delivered via video-conferencing, as long as the usual expectations for ‘close’/ live clinical supervision are met.

In addition, any training needs for clinical supervisors in using remote methods should be considered when planning adaptations to training/methods of delivering supervision.

Some clinical supervision may also be delivered via telephone; either as appropriate to the mode of delivery of therapy, or as an interim measure. This will be ‘counted’ towards clinical supervision requirements for the duration of this guidance, and further updates will be provided where new information emerges or the situation changes.

Guidance from people with personal experience and carers

Courses and therapists are encouraged to continue to consult and collaborate with people with lived experience on dealing with this situation, so that the potential consequences of remote working or other impacts of the pandemic are taken into account in relation to training. Course directors are invited to share insights which may assist other programmes in adaptations which are most useful.

Other resources

NHS guidance on digital working

Let’s Talk About CBT podcast – Coping with anxiety about coronavirus

BABCP guidance on remote working

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