Training, Dissemination and Implementation Research: Cognitive Therapy in Community Mental Health


The research arm of the Beck Initiative is a collaborative clinical, educational and administrative partnership between the Aaron T. Beck Psychopathology Research Center of the University of Pennsylvania (PENN) and several states and their municipalities. The goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of therapist training in CT training, and the impact of that training on clients, therapists, agencies and networks. Please see this webpage for a detailed description of the training arm of the Beck Initiative. Since 2007, the Beck Initiative has been a rousing success, disseminating and implementing Cognitive Therapy across a broad spectrum of setting, populations, and presenting problems. As of early 2012, we have joined with more than 30 agencies, including 18 adult agencies and 12 child agencies, training staff therapists and supervising the implementation of cognitive therapy in client treatment. Our trainings have spanned populations from adults with chronic schizophrenia to children in schools, and have included therapists and support staff in classrooms, on ACT teams, and in inpatient care.

Current Projects

Implementation of Cognitive Therapy in Community Mental Health: This evaluation of the large-scale implementation program will examine rates of achieved competency in CT, predictors of competency, the role of openness in evidence based practices, the impact of training on therapist turn-over and burn-out, sustainability, and the impact of training on client outcomes.

Web Based versus In-Person Training: A Comparison of Engagement and Training Outcomes. Technology may hold the key to providing cost-effective training, but can therapists achieve competency through this style of remote learning? This study will compare the feasibility, sustainability and effectiveness of training delivered live and training provided in an e-learning environment.

Psychometric Qualities of the Cognitive Therapy Rating Scale: The Cognitive Therapy Rating Scale (CTRS; Beck & Young, 1980) is a gold-standard measure of competency in CT. This study aims to examine the factor structure of this measure and report item, subscale and total score reliability based on its application to community mental health therapists.

Skill Acquisition among Community Mental Health Therapists: Trajectories of skill acquisition, as measured by the CTRS, will be examined to determine whether early scores on specific items predict later achieved competency.

Cognitive Therapy for Addictions: Therapists in a methadone clinic and an intensive outpatient clinic for addictions are receiving intensive training in CT to meet the diverse and intensive treatment needs of this population. This study aims to measure the impact of therapist training on client outcomes ranging from substance use to quality of life and perceptions of self-efficacy.

Promoting Recovery Through Continuity of Care in Community Mental Health: ATB-PRC personnel have developed an innovative continuity of care dissemination and implementation program for CT-R through extensive training for psychiatric hospital staff, community behavioral health workers, and Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams. Our research aims to measure the impact of the implementation of CT-R on client, therapist, agency and network levels, including client attrition, service use, recidivism, therapist turnover, and the sustainability of high-quality CT in community mental health settings.

Implementation of Cognitive Therapy in School Settings: Providing CT to students can pose both significant challenges and opportunities for great success. Therapists providing mental health services in public schools across Philadelphia have been trained integrate CT into individual, group and classroom-based services. This study aims to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing CT in schools.

Selected Publications

  1. Creed, T., Jager-Hyman, S., Pontoski, K., Feinberg, B., Rosenberg, Z., Evans, A.C., Hurford, M., & Beck, A. T. (in press). The Beck Initiative: A strength-based approach to training school-based mental health staff in cognitive therapy.International Journal of Emotional Education.
  2. Wiltsey Stirman, S., Bhar, S., Spokas, M., Brown, G., Creed, T.A., Perivoliotis, D., Farabaugh, D., Grant, P., & Beck, A.T. (2010). Training and consultation in evidence based psychosocial treatments in public mental health settings: The ACCESS model. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 41, 48-56.
  3. Creed, T., Reisweber, J., & Beck, A.T. (2011). Cognitive therapy for adolescents in school settings. New York: Guildford Press.
  4. Wiltsey Stirman, S., Buchhofer, R., McLaighlin, J.B., Evans, A.C., & Beck, A.T. (2009). The Beck Initiative: A Partnership to Implement Cognitive Therapy in a Community Behavioral Health System. Psychiatric Services, 60,1302-1304.