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Study Cognitive Behaviour Therapy at Otago

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) papers are designed for health professionals who wish to add CBT to their existing skills for understanding and treating common mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and psychotic disorders.

CBT training courses for mental health professionals

What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based, psychologically informed talking therapy. It helps people solve life problems and view situations realistically.

CBT focuses on the way thoughts, actions, feelings and body sensations interact. It emphasises how a person’s thinking affects their mood, physiology and behaviour. Based on an ever-evolving formulation and conceptualisation of a person’s problems, it emphasises a collaborative and strong therapeutic alliance.

Two options for postgraduate study

The University of Otago, Wellington offers two postgraduate qualifications in CBT; a Certificate, which provides foundation knowledge and skills in CBT, and a Diploma, which builds on this with more advanced application.

Hear from our students in the video below

Course content

The postgraduate courses in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) are designed to support health professionals to develop skills that enable them to use Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in their workplace. The primary focus for the course is on using CBT with adults, including young adults 18 years and above.

Postgraduate Certificate in Health Sciences (PGCertHealSc) endorsed in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

The Certificate course establishes a firm practical and theoretical knowledge base, showing how CBT is used as a framework for assessing and gaining understanding of a patient’s psychological distress, and then formulating and implementing an intervention based on that conceptualisation.

It also covers applications of CBT to common mental disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, substance use disorders, and the use of CBT with psychotic disorders. There is a strong emphasis on culturally responsive CBT with input from speakers with expertise from within and beyond the University.

Postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences (PGDipHealSc) endorsed in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

The Diploma course builds on the CBT Certificate-level training to ensure mental health and addiction practitioners extend their existing CBT assessment, conceptualisation and treatment skills for a broad range of complex presentations, including:

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Severe and comorbid mental health and drug problems
  • Personality disorders
  • Suicidal behaviour
  • Insomnia and emotional regulation
  • Addiction

Teaching and assignments

During the academic year, Certificate and Diploma course participants must attend three one-week teaching blocks, held in March, June and August respectively. These are taught in Wellington.

Additional theoretical work and assignments are based around the implementation of CBT in participants’ usual clinical casework. An integral part of the course is individual supervision by clinical psychologists with expertise in CBT.

Additional online tutorials (held via Zoom) will be offered in the months between teaching weeks.

There is a final exam at the end of October.

The courses are taught by clinical psychologists who have considerable experience in CBT

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Qualifying criteria for people applying

CBT applicants need to meet all of the following criteria:

  • Registered health professionals with a minimum of two years clinical experience
  • Applicants employed by a Ministry of Health funded District Health Board (DHB), non-governmental organisation (NGO) or Primary Health Organisation (PHO) mental health service
  • Applicants must be working at least 0.6 full-time equivalent in a mental health setting, or a health setting with a mental health component
  • Applicants must be New Zealand citizens or hold a permanent residency permit
  • Applicants must have access to ongoing work with clients
  • Availability of an on-site supervisor (registered clinical psychologist) with CBT training and experience is essential
  • Applicants need to have prior approval/support from their service manager

Admission to the course will be on the basis of academic performance, references, curriculum vitae and verification process.

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Course fees

The course fees are fully funded by Te Pou. Acceptance to the course secures funding, with no further application required.

How to apply (if you meet all the qualifying criteria)

Applications usually open early September each year.

  1. In the “Ready to enrol?” box (at the top and at the bottom of this page), choose the qualification based in Wellington, log in or create an account, and apply online to register your interest. When asked for an area of specialisation, choose Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
  2. Look out for an email response from the Wellington CBT admin team with an online verification form, and online declaration for your manager. Complete and submit your application
  3. Get your manager to complete an online declaration confirming support for your attendance

We will be in touch with the outcome of your application by mid-December.

Applications close

Applications close 31 October each year (but late applications may be considered should places still be available).

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Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is available as an endorsement for:

Both programmes are taught through the University of Otago, Wellington


See the full list of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (COBE) papers.

Programme requirements

Postgraduate Certificate in Health Sciences (PGCertHealSc) endorsed in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy


Postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences (PGDipHealSc) endorsed in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

  • COBE 401  Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
  • COBE 404  Advanced Topics in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Substitution for COBE 401 may be granted if papers to the value of 60 points of equivalent content and level have been completed.

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Contact details


CBT Course Director

Dr Emily Cooney
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Course Director
Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Clinical Psychologist
Department of Psychological Medicine
University of Otago, Wellington

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