The Fundamentals of CBT: An Interactive Online Course (MGH Residents)

This interactive online course provides an orientation and overview of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). These skills are useful for clinicians in all practice settings across mental health, primary care, social work, and psychology.

Studies show that CBT is an effective treatment for many mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.

This course is led by psychology experts who will describe how and when CBT skills can be used in clinical practice. They introduce basic techniques and core features of session structure. Course content also covers how to work with patients to engage them in treatment and set goals, how to conduct cognitive therapy and use advanced cognitive techniques.  It also includes information about how to incorporate behavioral techniques, such as exposure and response prevention, how to incorporate mindfulness into CBT, and how to use relapse prevention strategies.

The course includes an array of resources, videos and other materials to enhance the learning experience. All content and assignments can be completed at any time. Weekly call-in times allow faculty to hear and respond to questions directly, and an interactive discussion board lets participants post questions and interact with peers from across the United States and around the world. Plus, the course is accessible via desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Target Audience

This program is intended for:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • General and family practice physicians
  • Physician assistants
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Residents
  • Fellows

Learning Objectives

Mental health professionals need to stay current with the latest treatment strategies. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is empirically-based, and training in cognitive and behavioral strategies makes clinicians more effective in helping their patients reach their treatment goals.

At the end of this program, participants will be able to:

  • List the essential features of CBT
  • Describe the session structure used in CBT
  • Discuss how the pre-treatment assessment informs treatment planning
  • Describe how to collaboratively set CBT treatment goals with patients
  • Demonstrate how to use psychoeducation and case conceptualization with patients
  • Use mindfulness techniques with patients
  • Discuss the use of relaxation exercises in CBT
  • Design a plan for exposure plus response prevention with patients
  • Explain the concept of behavioral activation
  • Utilize cognitive strategies with patients
  • Discuss the use of relapse prevention strategies in CBT
Course summary
Registration opens: 
Course closes: 

Topics and faculty subject to change without notice.

Week 1

  • Background of CBT
  • Treatment structure of CBT
  • Patient engagement in CBT
  • What happens in the first session with a patient?
         -Pre-treatment assessment
         -Goal setting
         -Homework assignment

Week 2

  • Case Conceptualization in CBT
  • Use of Cognitive Strategies in CBT
  • Problem Solving
  • Mindfulness

Week 3

  • Behavioral Exercises in CBT
         -Exposure and Response Prevention
         -Behavioral Activation

Week 4

  • Use of Advanced Cognitive Strategies
  • Relapse Prevention in CBT
  • Program Review
  • Future Directions
Please login or register to take this course.
Please login or register to take this course.
Please login or register to take this course.
Please login or register to take this course.
Please login or register to take this course.

Release Date: March 17, 2016
Expiration Date: February 26, 2023
Review Date:  February 26, 2020  by Robert Althoff, MD, PhD


David H. Rubin, MD, reviewer
Jane Pimental, MPH
Sabine Wilhelm, PhD
Susan E. Sprich, PhD, psychologist reviewer, moderator

Disclosure Information

In accord with the disclosure policy of McLean Hospital as well as guidelines set forth by the Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education, all people in control of educational content, including speakers, course directors, planners, and reviewers, have been asked to disclose all relevant financial relationships with commercial interests of both themselves and their spouses/partners over the past 12 months, as defined below:              

Commercial Interest

The ACCME defines a “commercial interest” as any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services, used on, or consumed by, patients. The ACCME does not consider providers of clinical service directly to patients to be commercial interests. For more information, visit

Financial relationships

Financial relationships are those relationships in which the individual benefits by receiving a salary, royalty, intellectual property rights, consulting fee, honoraria, ownership interest (e.g., stocks, stock options or other ownership interest, excluding diversified mutual funds), or other financial benefit.  Financial benefits are usually associated with roles such as employment, management position, independent contractor (including contracted research), consulting, speaking and teaching, membership on advisory committees or review panels, board membership, and other activities from which remuneration is received, or expected.  ACCME considers relationships of the person involved in the CME activity to include financial relationships of a spouse or partner.

Relevant financial relationships 

ACCME focuses on financial relationships with commercial interests in the 12-month period preceding the time that the individual is being asked to assume a role controlling content of the CME activity. ACCME has not set a minimal dollar amount for relationships to be significant.  Inherent in any amount is the incentive to maintain or increase the value of the relationship. The ACCME defines “’relevant’ financial relationships” as financial relationships in any amount occurring within the past 12 months that create a conflict of interest.

Conflict of Interest

Circumstances create a conflict of interest when an individual has an opportunity to affect CME content about products or services of a commercial interest with which he/she has a financial relationship.

The following planners, speakers, and content reviewers, on behalf of themselves and their spouse or partner, have reported financial relationships with an entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services (relevant to the content of this activity) consumed by, or used on, patients:

Susan Sprich, PhD

Royalties (Co-Author): Oxford University Press
Royalties (Co-Edited Book): Springer
Honoraria (Associate Editors): Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT)

Sabine Wilhelm, PhD

PI: Telefonica Alpha, Inc.
Royalties: New Harbinger Publications; Guilford Publications; Oxford University Press; Springer

All other individuals including course directors, planners, reviewers, faculty, staff, etc., who are in a position to control the content of this educational activity have, on behalf of themselves and their spouse or partner, reported no financial relationships related to the content of this activity.

Hardware/Software Specifications

This internet-based CME activity is best experienced using Internet Explorer 8+, Mozilla Firefox 3+, Safari 4+. This Web site requires that JavaScript and session cookies be enabled. Certain activities may require additional software to view multimedia, presentation, or printable versions of the content. These activities will be marked as such and will provide links to the required software. That software may be: Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Windows Media Player.

Optimal System Configuration

Flash Player: Adobe Flash Player 10.1+
Browser: Firefox 3+, Internet Explorer 8.0+, Safari 4.0+, or Google Chrome 7.0+
Operating System: Windows XP+ or Mac OS X 10.4+
Internet Connection: 1 Mbps or higher

Minimum Requirements

Windows PC:500-MHz Pentium II; Windows XP or higher; 128 MB RAM; Video Card at least 64MB of video memory; Sound Card at least 16-bit; Macromedia Flash Player 10 or higher, audio playback with speakers for programs with video content; Firefox 1.1+, Internet Explorer 7.0+, Safari 1.0+, Google Chrome, or Opera
Macintosh: Mac OS X 10.3 or higher with latest updates installed; 1.83MHz Intel Core Duo or faster; RAM: 128MB or more; Video Card: at least 64MB of video memory; Sound Card: at least 16-bit

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