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NHS Education for Scotland

A skilled and sustainable workforce for a healthier Scotland

Adult mental health - Psychological therapies and interventions

We commission, design and deliver training in psychological therapies and interventions for staff working with adults who have mental health problems; such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, substance misuse and forensic mental health problems.

Through this work we are supporting the national improvement programme to widen access and reduce waiting times for psychological therapies and interventions.

We have a strong track record in multidisciplinary engagement with all the national NHS boards and are committed to working with integrated mental health systems. We are committed to providing high quality education and training, based on Implementation Science, through work-based learning programmes & training pathways, that incorporate e-learning, interactive workshops, coaching and assessment of competence.

We have worked collaboratively with local boards to gather data on the impact of the education and training provided by the team and have evidence of improved clinical outcomes for people who receive psychological interventions from staff following our training. 

Core training programme

The NES Adult Mental Health training team supports the matched / stepped care service model through the provision of a national programme of education and training in evidence based psychological therapies and interventions. Research on the use of evidence-based interventions highlights the importance of ongoing skills development with a programme of training, coaching and practice feedback in order to enhance the skills of staff. It is clear from the research that one-off training events do not lead to a change in practice on their own, but that coaching and observed practice with feedback are necessary to consolidate and implement new learning. Therefore, multidisciplinary staff working within mental health can access education and training in psychological therapies and brief psychological interventions that is based on implementation science and delivered within robust supporting infrastructures within the local NHS boards.

Education in psychological therapies is provided in partnership with the South of Scotland CBT Programme, University of West of Scotland, University of Edinburgh, Mindfulness CBT Scotland, and MBT Scotland.

The NES Adult Mental Health Team has focused on developing a programme of training in brief structured psychological interventions which build upon each other, blending online e-learning modules, training events focused on the practice of skills, and ongoing skills-based coaching to maximise the impact of the training on staff skills and effectiveness of the intervention. Training in brief psychological interventions is provided through work-based Turas Learn learning programmes that include; e-learning, interactive workshops, structured coaching sessions (that are embedded within routine clinical practice available within local board clinical supervision infrastructures) and a work based assessment of competence.

Essentials of psychologically informed care

This elearning course has been designed to provide an overview of the knowledge and skills important for a psychologically informed approach. The course has been developed for those working in health and social care settings to emphasize the importance of psychological and emotional wellbeing and explore why people think and do the things they do. The five modules of this course cover an overview of emotions and wellbeing, communication and active listening, establishing good working relationships and the importance of staff taking care of themselves.

Core psychological interventions for alcohol and substance misuse

To increase the accessibility of psychological interventions and therapies for those experiencing problems with substance misuse, this programme provides skills-based training opportunities for a multidisciplinary, multi-sector range of staff in Motivational Interviewing and Core Behavioural & CBT Skills in Relapse Prevention and Recovery Management. Practitioners are able to access training resources for working with mental health, trauma, dementia, and chronic health concerns on TURAS Learn.

Motivational Interviewing (MI): The MI training offered by NES aims to provide staff with the opportunity to develop their practice after their initial introductory training, with a focus on training pathways for Motivational Interviewing, including coaching which emphasises the practice of skills with feedback from skilled MI practitioners. Over the past five years, the Psychological Interventions Team has focused on developing and supporting the National MI Coach Group and local MI coaching forums in order to provide practitioners the opportunity to practice their skills and receive feedback from skilled MI coaches.

Core Behavioural & CBT Skills in Relapse Prevention and Recovery Management: This blended programme of training provides an overview of the core skills important in relapse prevention and recovery management. A skills-based competency framework covering motivational enhancement, relapse prevention and recovery management has been developed, with e-learning, interactive training events and coaching opportunities.

Core psychological interventions for anxiety

An Introduction to a psychological approach to anxiety: This e-learning module is designed for all staff working in the public sector with people who have anxiety problems. It aims to give the learner a fundamental understanding of anxiety, how it is expressed in the body and some basic psychological interventions which can help people manage their anxiety more effectively.

An introduction to CBT for anxiety:

The most up-to-date research in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been reviewed to provide a brief, structured and protocolised psychological intervention, that can be used by multidisciplinary staff to work more effectively with people who have anxiety problems. This learning programme is hosted within Turas Learn and consists of an e-learning module titled ‘An Introduction to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety Disorders’, attendance at 4 facilitated, interactive workshops, 4 structured coaching sessions (that are embedded within local clinical supervision) and an assessment of competence.

Core psychological interventions for depression

Behavioural Activation for Depression: is an evidence-based psychological therapy that is recommended in The Matrix: A Guide for the Delivery of Evidence Based Psychological Therapies (Scottish Government, 2011), the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network clinical guideline (2010) and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (2009) clinical guideline for the treatment and management of depression in adults. It is a psychological therapy that is ideally suited for delivery in a stepped care service model.

Within Adult Mental Health there are three learning programmes (further information can be found on our BA e-leaflet). On completion of BA Basics, learners can select the learning programme that is most suited to meet the needs of people with depression within their service.

Each learning programmes provides a blended learning approach including asynchronous and synchronous training opportunities, e-learning modules, coaching and supervision. Interactive sessions are all provided remotely. Our blended learning approach follows NES’s ethos to ensure ongoing implementation and fidelity to evidence-based interventions.

Four e-learning modules produced by NES in support of behavioural activation can be found on TURAS learn.

Core psychological interventions for forensic mental health

Low Intensity Psychological Interventions in Forensic Mental Health Settings: The Low Intensity Psychological Interventions in Forensic Mental Health Settings training is delivered in partnership with the School of Forensic Mental. This 5-day practical skills training programme is designed to increase the psychological mindedness of staff and equip clinicians with the skills and competencies necessary to deliver an agreed suite of 'low intensity' psychological therapy programmes, which have been developed by the forensic matrix working group.

‘New to Forensic – Essentials of Psychological Care: Train the Trainers’ training: All clinical and non-clinical staff new to working within Forensic Mental Health are offered the opportunity to undertake the New to Forensic training programme, which is designed to promote self-directed learning and multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approaches. NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and School of Forensic Mental Health (SoFMH) work together to provide the ‘New to Forensic (N2F): Essentials of Psychological Care’ programme. For further information, please click here.

Team Based Forensic MBT Skills: By the end of this 2-day workshop, clinicians should be able to employ the MBT model usefully in working with forensic patients and in joint-working with colleagues. The aim of the training is to equip people with a working knowledge of both the theory and practice of MBT, which they will be able to put to immediate use in their current practice.

See, think, act: relational security is an interactive online learning module that was created jointly with NES and the School of Forensic Mental Health. It is based on the ‘See, Think, Act’ reference material from the DOH- surrounding the theme of relational security. It has been developed for all staff working in secure forensic mental health services and is available in Turas Learn.

Working with personality disordered (PD) offenders is an interactive online learning module that was created jointly with NES and the School of Forensic Mental Health. This guide has been produced to support people working with offenders with a diagnosis of PD in both in- and out-patient settings and is available in Turas Learn.

Core psychological interventions for older adults

The key remit of the Older Adult work stream within the Psychological Interventions Team is focussed upon supporting delivery of education and training of multi-professional staff. The aim is to increase access to evidence based psychological interventions and therapies for Older People across NHS Scotland, social care and third sector partners. Key project work includes:

  • Supporting older adult supervision for staff undertaking Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Diploma level training (South of Scotland CBT course and University of West of Scotland)
  • Provision of a national programme in brief psychological interventions that includes; ‘An Introduction to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety Disorders in Older Adults’, ‘Behavioural Activation for Depression’, ‘Facilitator training in Living Life to the Full Classes for Older Adults (Provided under license from Five Areas)’.

Core psychological interventions for psychosis

This training has been developed for qualified multi-disciplinary staff working in adult and older adult mental health settings, who have a keyworker role and are working with people who experience psychosis. The Turas Learn Learning programme ‘Psychosocial interventions for psychosis’ are recovery focused, map onto the UCL CORE Competency Frameworks for severe and enduring mental health problems and focus on developing the ‘therapeutic stance, values and assumptions’ competencies for psychosis. The training has been co-produced with people who have lived experience of psychosis and is available on Turas Learn.



Delivering the forensic mMatrix & low intensity psychological interventions in forensic services in Scotland [PPT]

Dr Sarah Weldon, Principal Educator for the Forensic Workstream for NHS Education for Scotland, recently showcased the work of NES & the School of Forensic Mental Health at the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services in Montreal in July 2019. This was be a unique opportunity to demonstrate the impact NES & the SoFMH Training has had on increasing access to psychological therapies in forensic services.

Training together across specialties: Adapting an adult mental health CBT training programme for older people's, substance misuse and forensic services - poster [PDF]

The aim of the project was to pilot a series of adapted versions of the established NES training course “An introduction to CBT for Anxiety.” This was to meet the specific needs of staff working in three specialist areas (Older Peoples, Forensic and Substance Misuse Services) and to assess the acceptability of the new training.

The impact of training occupational therapy staff to implement behavioural activation for depression - poster [PDF]

The COBRA study (Richards et al, 2016) demonstrated that the provision of a simpler therapy, Behavioural Activation (BA), was as effective and cheaper than Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) in meeting the needs of people with depression. Working as part of the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy to increase access to psychological therapies and interventions, NHS Education for Scotland (NES) trained a group of Scottish experts to provide training in Behavioural Activation for Depression (Martell, Dimidjian & Herman-Dunn 2010) within the NHS boards.

Because life happens! Collaborating to support training in autism across the lifespan [PDF]

This cross-sector project and the web-based resources created, address a key recommendation identified in the Scottish Strategy for Autism (2011) regarding transitions and change and the associated learning needs highlighted in the NES Autism Training Framework: Optimising Outcomes (2014). They also complement the Principles of Good Transitions and the Autism Transitions Supplement produced by the Scottish Transitions Forum and Autism Network Scotland (ANS).


The delivery of psychological interventions in substance misuse services in Scotland report [PDF]

'The Delivery of Psychological Interventions in Substance Misuse Services in Scotland Report’ was published by the Scottish Government in June 2018. The paper was developed by the Lead Psychologists in Addiction Services Scotland (LPASS) in partnership with the NES PI&TAMH Substance Misuse workstream. This guidance has been introduced as a framework to help local areas assess their own training needs and plan for the development of the workforce. Following the publication, a series of events looked at how to maximise the use of current education and training resources to support this report and highlight current training opportunities offered by NES to support workforce development.


Training across the gap: Collaborative training between NES and third sector in evidence based psychological interventions - poster [PDF]

The aim of this project was to evaluate partnership working between NHS Education for Scotland and Penumbra to train third sector staff in Cognitive Behavioural Approaches, a psychological intervention used to support people with mental health problems.


An evaluation of the implementation of evidence based psychological approach in the third sector - poster [PDF]

Evidence based psychological approaches (EBPA) help people make positive changes in their lives. Health Boards, Social Services and the Third Sector are increasingly working together in an integrated system to implement effective, evidence based psychological approaches for people with mental health problems. We know from Implementation Science that effective evidence based approaches are delivered successfully when effective implementation methods are used within an enabling context, resulting in positive outcomes for people1. This pilot project aimed to investigate:

  1. The supporting infrastructure required for the effective implementation of psychological approaches within the third Sector.
  2. The acceptability and impact of an evidence based psychological approach model within the third sector

Last updated: 27/09/2020

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