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Study Cognitive Behaviour Therapy at Otago

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy papers are designed for health professionals who wish to extend their existing skills and understanding of those with common mental health disorders, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and psychotic disorders.

A training course for mental health professionals

What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), also known as Cognitive Therapy, is a short-term, structured psychotherapy, developed by Aaron Beck and colleagues in the 1960s. It helps people solve life problems and view problem 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 sound therapeutic alliance.

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 course establishes a firm 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.

The primary focus for the course is on using CBT with adults, including young adults 18 years and above.

Also covered are 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.

Teaching and assignments

During the academic year, course participants must attend three week-long teaching blocks. These are held in Wellington and Auckland.

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.

The course is taught by clinical psychologists who have considerable experience in CBT. They attend national and international workshops that enable them to keep abreast of the latest developments in CBT.

Programme – Block dates to be confirmed

Block 1: March
  • Introduction to CBT
  • Applications of CBT in a bi-cultural context
  • Assessment, conceptualisation and treatment of depression
Block 2: June

Assessment, conceptualisation and treatment of anxiety disorders.

Block 3: August
  • Assessment, conceptualisation and treatment of substance abuse.
  • Assessment, conceptualisation and treatment of psychotic disorders.

Additional zoom tutorials will be offered in the months between teaching weeks.

Final exam: End of October (date to be confirmed)

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Block teaching delivered in Wellington and Auckland

The course is run by the University of Otago, Wellington.

We will be delivering the 2022 block teaching in both Wellington and Auckland – venues to be confirmed. It will be at the discretion of the course Director to allocate successful applicants to Wellington or Auckland, with the clear intention to allocate successful northern-based students to the Auckland campus where we can.

Attendance at all block weeks is compulsory.

Qualifying criteria for people applying

Applications are invited from:

  • 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 (clinical psychologist) with CBT 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 “Skills Matter”. 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. Go to the relevant qualification page link below, choose the qualification based in Wellington, and apply online to register your interest
  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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