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Improving access to psychological therapies

The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Expansion Programme builds on the ground breaking IAPT programme that started in 2008.

Through the rapid expansion of training psychological therapists and the commissioning of new teams to work in primary care, the IAPT programme has led the way in improving availability of NICE recommended treatments for people suffering with anxiety disorders and depression.


We are working with NHS England to deliver the objectives of the Five Year Forward View (FYFV) Independent Taskforce Report. The report outlines a need to further expand access to integrated psychological therapies for adults with anxiety and depression, with the aim of meeting 25% of need and a focus on those with long-term physical health conditions and people who are out of work. We're developing a sustainable plan for growth and further development of the IAPT workforce over the next five years through workforce planning and education commissioning - expanding and up-skilling the IAPT workforce to increase access and develop robust integrated models for delivering psychological therapies in primary care.

The IAPT expansion programme will accelerate with additional NHS England investment in 2016/17 and 2017/18 to develop integrated IAPT services embedded within physical healthcare pathways and to train therapists to deliver psychological therapies for people living with long term physical health conditions and medically unexplained symptoms. 

To support the expansion of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, we are commissioning continued professional development (CPD) training for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners and High Intensity Therapists.

The training focuses on high intensity and low intensity approaches to support people with mental health problems and physical long-term conditions or persistent and distressing medically unexplained symptoms. The IAPT Education and Training Expert Reference Group have developed evidence based curricula to support the commissioning of two new training programmes: 

High Intensity Therapist (HIT) long term conditions/medically unexplained conditions curriculum.
Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) long term conditions curriculum.

Resources are available for both the High Intensity Therapist and Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner courses in the downloads section below.

PWP training is commissioned by the NHS and delivered by local universities. PWP training usually consists of one day per week academic work and four days supervised practice. PWP training follows a national curriculum and trainees are all taught the same specific low intensity interventions including; behavioural activation, graded exposure, cognitive restructuring and panic management. Training is typically completed within 12 months and the curriculum is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

HIT trainees undertake training on a specifically commissioned high intensity CBT course accredited by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). Training consists of two days a week at university and three days supervised practice in a clinical setting over a 12-month period.

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