Undergraduate CBT Course Syllabus 2015


Undergraduate CBT Course Syllabus 2015

  • By Ian Bradley
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Course Outline                         Principles of CBT                          Fall 2015

                                                    McGill University Psych 408

Dr Ian Bradley (ian.bradley@mcgill.ca)


Time and Location:  Fridays                  Edu 211                 8:30 – 11:30

Lecture Material: There is no textbook, instead there are course notes that summarize the main points of the lecture. The notes are not meant to provide a continuous narrative but rather a notational summary of key ideas. Therefore, attending lectures and reading relevant background material are required to clarify the ideas in the notes.


Introduction: My goal is to introduce the student to the basic principles and techniques of CBT from its early beginnings with its emphasis upon behaviourism to its current status employing mindfulness and acceptance. The first lectures provide a foundation with a discussion about the scientific aspects of CBT, assessment procedures, the CBT conceptualization of problem behaviour and finally ethics. Following this foundation, a wide gamut of problems including phobias, depression, alcohol abuse and schizophrenia will serves as the target problems to illustrate the wide applicability of CBT.

I will also stress application of CBT to the world of sports and work since I would imagine that not everyone will become a clinical psychologist, but everyone will ultimately work.

In an effort to make the course more involving and educational, after completing an intensive boot-camp introduction, each student will have an opportunity to use the procedures and techniques in a variety of simulations.

Prerequisites: (PSYC 337 and PSYC 211)  Only under rare circumstances ( eg equivalent courses taken at another university) will a student be allowed to register without these courses.

Class schedule, lectures and presentations ( shaded)


Date Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Sept 11 Application of CBT to sports -Course outline 

-Group formation

Introduction to CBT
Sept 18 Science & CBT  Behavioural Assessment Models & Ethics


Sept 25 World of stimuli  Fears and Phobias Operant Conditioning for clinicians
Oct 2 Autism Grp 1  ABC’s fearGrp 2   ABC’s in OCD

Grp 3   ABC’s depression

Grp 7Grp 8

Grp 9

Oct 9 Chronic Mental patients Grp 4   RandomistasGrp 5   ABA design in autism

Grp 6   Performance Management

Grp 10Grp 11

Grp 12

Oct 16 Biofeedback Grp 1   Skills Training autismGrp 2   PMR – 2 muscles grp

Grp 3   Mindfulness

Grp 7Grp 8

Grp 9

Oct 23 Cognitve Therapy Grp 4 Exposure in agoraphobiaGrp 5 Exposure in panic

Grp 6 Virtual reality

Grp 10Grp 11

Grp 12

Oct 30 Mid- termChange groups
Nov 6 Alcohol Abuse Grp 1 Problem-solving therapyGrp 2 SMART in work

Grp 3 ACT

Grp 7 Problem solvingGrp 8

Grp 9 ACT

Nov 13 Depression Grp 4   SST, teenagersGrp 5   SST, alcohol abuse

Grp 6   SST, shyness

Grp 10Grp 11

Grp 12

Nov 20 Social Skills Training Grp 1   Behavioural activation for studentsGrp 2   Cognitive errors students

Grp 3   Psychological factors in Alcohol abuse

Grp 7Grp 8

Grp 9

Nov 27 Positive psychologyAnd


Grp 4    IntegrationGrp 5   Careers, Clifton

Grp 6   Changing High School,+ve psychology

Grp 10Grp 11

Grp 12

Dec 4 Review       Additional presentation time If required


Group Assignments Details:


ABC’s in a phobia

ABC’s in OCD

ABC’s in depression

These presentations involve the intimate connection between antecedent events, “A’s”, the three domains of the behavioural response “B” ( behavioural, cognitive and affective/physiological) and the resultant consequences that typically serve to maintain the problem behaviour. 

In each task, the team will present a verbal description of a realistic case in one of the three indicated diagnostic areas. Although a brief demographic and situational contextual sketch will be given, the main emphasis will be on the A, B and C elements. A schematic diagram will be presented to illustrate the interaction among the variables. Finally, other relevant variables will be drawn into the conceptualization.




ABA design







Performance Management


Randomistas, visit their web site and present two interesting projects to the class 

Find in the literature or create an intervention for autistic kids that utilizes an ABA intra-subject experimental design to evaluate the intervention. Describe the target problem, the intervention and present a graph of the results showing success.


Describe a job that one person in your group had that violated many principles of Performance Management. Then, describe how the organization or management could have applied those principles to create a better working experience.

Skills training autism 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation





Simulate the intervention of an ABA (applied behavioural analysis) therapist and an autistic child who is being taught object labelling in the acquisition phase of learning. 

Simulate a therapist teaching an anxious client the techniques of PMR. Provide a rationale for your client followed by a general description of the PMR.   For the demonstration use just two muscle groups.


Simulate a mindfulness exercise in which the rationale and method are explained and demonstrated for a client suffering from anxiety.



In-vivo exposure with agoraphobia 




Exposure with panic disorder





Virtual reality

In-vivo exposure is the theme for these client-therapist simulations. 

Briefly describe the agoraphobia symptom and then illustrate a therapist – client interaction where the rationale and procedures for the technique of in-vivo exposure are discussed. Include in your simulation several client reservations and how the therapist might deal with each.



Do the same simulation but with a patient with panic disorder where the exposure involves exposure to interoceptive cues of arousal that are evoked by the therapist


Present several interesting uses of virtual reality related to exposure. If possible, incorporate some snippets from the internet.


Problem-solving therapy 


SMART in work



Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Based on the research and clinical work of Nezu, simulate snippets of a likely patient-therapist interaction using problem-solving to help a medical patient with his/her condition. 

Define SMART as a method to set goals and apply to the challenges faced by people of your cohort.


Simulate a ACT session where some of the basic principles of this technique are illustrated.


SST, teenagersSST, alcohol abuse

SST, shyness

Social Skills Training, SST, utilizes core ingredients of first modeling and then role-playing with coaching.. Simulate a snippet of these twoe events of a SST group using these methods addressing the indicated targeted problem. 



Cognitive errors students



Psychological factors in alcohol abuse

Review what is currently being done with smart phones and what the future might look like. 

Beck and Ellis focused on changing so-called cognitive errors. Adapt their list of errors to an undergraduate student population; state/demonstrate/show the error and its remediation.


Present a fictitious case in which a myriad of psychological factors are response for the acquisition and then maintenance of an alcohol problem







Careers, Clifton




Positive Psychology

Take some of Barlow’s techniques described in his Unified approach and so how they might apply to cases of anxiety and depression


Clifton has written a fable about animal strengths.   How could it be applied to schools and career-placement settings?


Use the principles of positive psychology to change your high school.




General notes about the presentations:

One of the advantageous of the operationall-defined and manualized approach to CBT is that most of the techniques can now be delivered by talented young people like you. Therefore, let’s have fun and do just that.


We will form groups with an upper limit of 4 students each. The twelve groups will be divided into two sections; groups 1 to 6 presenting in the second hour of class, and groups 7 to 12 presenting in the third hour.   The groups might be reconfigured after the mid-term exam.


We will have three presentations per hour therefore plan to have deliverable content for at least 10 minutes allowing 5 minutes for questions that I will pose. Be creative in your presentation using A-V material when required. However, since time is precious, ensure that your group sticks to the issue.


I have several tips about group functioning in this context. Firstly, groups that laugh a lot during their preparation periods tend to produce good work. Secondly, groups members laugh more when they are not stressed about work distribution, ie everyone is working hard. However, equal work does not mean that everyone does the same thing. Ensure that individual talents are fully exploited. Finally, develop leadership in your group since the timeline is short.


Please note that some of the assignment exercises might change due to student interest or feedback.


Group Assignment Evaluation:

Each individual will receive the group mark. Group marks are based on the following scale:


Expected level of a McGill undergraduate presentation              2 points

Wow level of performance equivalent to doctoral student          2.5 points

Missing the mark                                                                              1.0 points


Overall Evaluation:


Quizzes                                              (10%)

There will be four short answer quizzes interspersed throughout the course


Midterm exam                                 (20%)

The material for the mid and final exams will be taken from the distributed notes, class lectures, and group presentations.


Group Projects, four in number  (30%)

Students will also be assigned to a project group to practice the application of the principles and techniques discussed in class.


Final Exam                                        (40%)

The format will be a mixture of short and longer essay questions covering material from the entire course.



DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES (see www.mcgill.ca/integrity for more information).



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