Graduate and Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Practice in Psychological Wellbeing

Course outline

The course is a well-established high quality training programme for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners that runs for ten months on a full-time basis, with students working in service alongside their training on the course.

The course is BPS accredited and part of the Department of Health ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ programme (IAPT), which aims to improve access to evidence-based talking therapies in the NHS and any other qualified healthcare providers (AQP) through an expansion of the psychological therapy workforce and services.

The course covers the engagement and assessment of clients with common mental health problems, evidence based treatments of these problems, and the understanding of the importance of client values, culture and diversity.

Why study at the University of Surrey

  • This is a BPS accredited course leading to eligibility for accreditation as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner with the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists (BABCP)
  • Students are employed by IAPT services usually at agenda for change band 4 or equivalent.
  • The course includes a rich range of learning experiences  including lectures, workshops, role-plays, trainee presentations, experiential and self-reflective sessions
  • Supportive academic and pastoral care from personal tutors and wider University support systems are provided to students
  • Teaching is based on research, current PWP guidelines and clinical experience, covering real life challenges with the help of service users and clinical presentations
  • Training local to you with the October intake usually based at Guildford in the serene and beautiful Stag Hill Campus. While students in the May intake are taught at the Kent Event Centre set in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the North Downs.
  • On graduating the course you will be a qualified Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner providing NICE compliant interventions to people with mild to moderate depression and anxiety disorders.
  • The course has also recently been successfully reaccredited by the BPS to be reviewed in 2019/20

Course content

The course comprises 60 credits which are achieved through the completion of 4 course modules. A 100% attendance on all teaching days is expected to be met by students to pass the course.

Module 1: Engagement and assessment of common mental health problems

The module provides trainees with the skills and knowledge that they need to undertake a range of patient-centred assessments, in different formats and settings, so that they are able to identify the main areas of concern to the patient. Importantly, the module aims to develop trainee PWP’s capacity to effectively engage patients and establish an appropriate relationship whilst gathering information in a collaborative manner.  Finally, the module aims to provide trainee PWP’s with sufficient knowledge of mental health disorders and evidence-based therapeutic options so that they are able to enable their patient to make informed treatment choices.

Module 2 : Evidence based treatment of common mental health problems

This module focuses on the knowledge and skills required to provide therapeutic support and management to individuals who are experiencing common mental health difficulties as well as their families, friends and carers. This module aims to achieve this by developing trainees competencies in the delivery of low intensity cognitive behavioural interventions.  This includes, but is not limited to, behavioural activation, exposure, cognitive restructuring, panic management, problem solving, CBT-informed worry and sleep management.   Given that the overall delivery of these interventions is informed by behaviour change models and strategies, the module aims to equip trainee PWP’s with an understanding of, and an ability to apply, the COM-B model to promote psychological wellbeing.

Module 3 : Values, Diversity and Context

This module aims to develop trainee PWP’s understandings of the concepts of diversity, inclusion and multi-culturalism in relation to the diverse communities served by the service within which the worker is operating. The module also seeks to develop trainee’s capacity to critically reflect on issues of power within professional - patient relationships, individual differences, and to develop their ability to practice respectfully and sensitively with clients. Finally, given the caseload that PWP’s are expected to work with, this module aims to develop PWP’s capacity to recognise the limitations of their competence and role and to be able to use stepping up and signposting to manage this.

Module 4 : Evidencing clinical practice

The Module gives students from a wide range of disciplines in health and social care the opportunity to evidence their practice in their own clinical speciality. Students will be encouraged to examine theoretical aspects of decision-making, to analyse and develop their practice, develop strategies for effective and defendable practice through an analysis care situations from their practice.

Teaching approaches 

The course modules are delivered across two academic semesters with lectures most often on a Wednesday and Thursday, following an intensive 3 week introduction which normally consists of 4 days teaching a week and one day of self-taught study.

May intakes are run from our Kent location and October intakes from Guildford. If you are based in Kent, lectures take place at Kent Event centre, alternatively if based in Guildford these lectures take place at the University of Surrey. All examinations are conducted at the University of Surrey. 

Alongside the teaching on the course you will be employed full time by an IAPT service and receive clinical skills and case management supervision in service. Trainees will also be expected to undertake self-directed study and will have access to the University of Surrey Library and online resources.

Who should apply?

While many PWPs are psychology graduates this is not a necessity.  Applications are welcomed from people with experience working in mental health or similar services who may not have been in education recently. Services will also have individual person specifications you are required to meet and you can see an example on the Low Intensity section of the IAPT website. 

Postgraduate route 

You will usually have an upper second class honours degree (or higher) in a relevant subject (Psychology, nursing, etc).  

Undergraduate route

Students will normally hold a previously accumulated credit volume of 120 FHEQ Level 5 credits and 120FHEQ Level 4 credits. Students should be working/ have recent experience in a relevant healthcare setting. Students who do not have the above academic profile should seek advice as it may not exclude them from applying for our modules and programmes of study. However, in this case the trainee will need a minimum of three passes at GCE A Level (not including General Studies or Critical Thinking) or an equivalent qualification (having been provisionally offered  a job in an IAPT service) and they will need to go through the university's accreditation of prior experience and learning process to check that they are able to demonstrate their ability to work at the appropriate academic level. Part of this will involve writing an academic essay. Please contact admissions ( to discuss this further if this applies to you.

All applicants should have experience working with people with mental health problems and have a desire to empower people to manage their difficulties.  You will have good organisation skills to manage the high volume caseload.  Additionally you will be able to communicate clearly verbally and in writing to patients, carers and other professionals.

The Advanced Practice in Psychological Wellbeing training programme at Surrey promotes the NHS values which are enshrined within the NHS constitution. These are: Everyone counts, respect and dignity for all, improving people’s lives, compassion, working together for patients, and a commitment to the quality of care. The programme team is dedicated to recruiting graduates whose individual values and behaviours align to those of the NHS.

Please view the Linking your values to the NHS Constitution document for details of the NHS and our values based recruitment approach


The programme promotes a values based approach to recruitment.  The aim of this is to identify and to select trainee's who demonstrate the values set out in the NHS Constitution.  In particular, we are looking for trainee's who exhibit the following attributes.

  • Self-aware, reflective thinking
  • Respect
  • Resilience
  • Compassion
  • Initiative

Please check with your recruiting service as to their specific recruitment process.

Equal opportunities 

At the University of Surrey we are committed to equality of opportunity in access to training. The University welcomes and provides support as needed for trainees with disabilities or specific learning difficulties.

It is important, however, that applicants with a disability make this known to the University so that appropriate arrangements for reasonable adjustments to support their education and learning can be made. Further details can be found on the Additional Learning Support website

School of Health Sciences

For enquiries

For admissions enquiries, please contact: 

Course Staff

Director of IAPT Advanced Practice in Psychological Wellbeing Course
Laura Driesen

Senior Teaching Fellow
Damian White

Teaching Fellows
Helen Maharaj; Alice Drinkwater; Benedict Atkin

Course administrator

Julie Tidy

Entry to the course

The course is open to trainee Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners employed by local IAPT services.  

Services often advertise posts months in advance on local and national websites e.g.

How to apply

All applicants should apply directly though the local IAPT service providers with joint interviews taking place with University programme staff.

We are unable to consider direct individual applications.  

Please look out for advertisements for this role in the relevant service providers’ websites or NHS jobs website

Once you have been recruited by the PCT/service provider, you will be automatically sent to the University of Surrey for training on the above course.

Start date and cohort size

The next course cohort is provisionally due to commence from May 2017 (Kent) with cohort sizes ranging on average from 25-40 students.

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