CBT Training: Everything You Need to Know

You have been on the hunt for a new career for a while now. You have either been in your job for as long as you can take or you simply want a change. You also want to help others. 

So far it looks like cognitive behavioral therapy could be the right career choice for you. It is time to take the next step and learn how you can make cognitive behaviour therapy your new career. Now, what should you know? How does cognitive behavioral training work? 

In this article, we answer all your questions pertaining to how to become a cognitive behavioral therapist and how to choose the best CBT training course for you. 

You will learn:

  • What is cognitive behavioral therapy?
  • How does cognitive behavioral therapy work?
  • How much does a cognitive behavioral therapist make?
  • How long does it take to become a cognitive behavioral therapist?
  • The top 4 CBT training and certification courses
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy career alternatives 

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapists help patients recognize and correct thought patterns that are causing distress in their lives and potentially interfering with their day-to-day lives. It can be used to help treat anxiety, depression, drug problems, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and more. In fact, research indicates that CBT can lead to increases in a person’s quality of life and functioning.

CBT is based on the following core concepts:

  • Psychological issues are partially due to unhelpful thought patterns.
  • Psychological issues are partially due to learned and unhelpful behaviors.
  • Individuals with psychological issues can learn and adapt better ways to cope. In turn, this would help improve their life and alleviate their symptoms.

How does cognitive behavioral therapy work?

Essentially, CBT aims to help change a person’s behavioral and thinking patterns to help them alter the way they feel about a situation and overcome difficulties. 

Cognitive behavioral therapists use a variety of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to achieve this. The exact techniques used may depend on the person, their situation, and what is causing their distress. 

Frequently, the goal is to develop various coping strategies. Some examples of techniques used include guided discovery, cognitive reframing, exposure therapy, journaling, role playing, and relaxation techniques. 

What is the difference between cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy?

What is the Difference Between Cognitive Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive therapy 

Cognitive therapy is a therapeutic approach falling under a broader range of cognitive behavioral therapies. Occasionally, this term is used in place of cognitive behavioral therapy, yet they can be categorized as two different approaches. 

Cognitive therapy targets a person’s thoughts and emotions, altering how they perceive and feel about a situation. In other words, it challenges a person’s perceptions, helping them see situations potentially in a more positive light. This type of therapy focuses more on how people think. Whereas, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the way people think and behave.

Behavioral therapy 

Behavioral therapy is focused on changing people’s unhealthy behaviours. It is based on the idea that all behaviours are learned and potentially destructive behaviours can be changed. Examples of this include desensitization and exposure techniques that are often used to treat phobias. A client is taught to replace a fear response with the relaxation response. A person is first taught how to do relaxation techniques. With time a client will gradually be exposed to the object of their phobia in order to practice this technique.  

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy combines both behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy by addressing the way a person thinks and their behavior. The client learns tools relating to both types of therapy, which can help them address their issue from a holistic perspective. It is a more cohesive approach to resolving multiple issues. Occasionally, an individual may go through various types of therapy until they find one that works.

What is the difference between CBT and TF CBT?

TF CBT, or trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps families, children, and adolescents overcome early trauma. For instance, it is particularly useful in addressing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or mood disorders as a result of a traumatic incident, such as abuse or grief.

Essentially, TF CBT is focused on dealing with trauma. In many cases TF CBT is used when working with children and family therapy techniques are frequently used to support the process. CBT approaches help the person address and overcome negative thinking patterns and behaviors. Meanwhile, family therapy techniques are used to look at how family dynamics or family members are further exacerbating the problem.

How to Become a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist

How to Become a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist

Becoming a cognitive behavioral therapist is a very rewarding career, and this is not only limited to the reward associated with helping others. Cognitive behavioral therapists can expect to make $45,000 per year as their base salary. For those with Ph.D. degrees choosing to work in scientific research institutions or setting up their own practice, salary can go up to $100,000 and more. 

A cognitive behavioral therapist salary may vary based on where you are situated. Those located in busy metropolitan areas are more likely to make more.

So how do you get certified? What is involved in CBT training? What are the steps you need to take to become a cognitive behavioral therapist?

How long does it take to become a CBT therapist?

Becoming a CBT therapist can take over 6 years to achieve, if not more. It is often recommended that after an undergraduate degree and graduate degree is earned that a doctorate also be obtained. 

Yet, there are also various other professions that use CBT methods and techniques, such as life coaches or NLP practitioners. These professions do not require intensive training or lengthy education to incorporate the use of CBT techniques in their work. This means that you can take a CBT training course and learn all the basic techniques you can then use in another career. 

Taking the CBT training course by itself, however, does not make you automatically eligible to become a CBT therapist. 

How much does it cost to become a CBT therapist?

Depending on which educational facility you attend, becoming a CBT therapist can cost thousands upon thousands of dollars, especially once you add up your undergraduate and graduate degree. It is crucial to financially plan and map it out, as you would for any university-level program.

How do you get CBT certified?

Step 1 - Earn a Bachelor's degree

The first step toward becoming a cognitive behavioral therapist involves earning a four-year bachelor’s degree. Usually, individuals choose a bachelor’s degree associated with social work or mental health. This can help build your initial foundation of understanding how humans work.

Step 2 - Earn a Master’s degree

You must complete a master’s degree in psychology or social work. Many individuals also complete a doctorate degree. However, this is not required.

Step 3 - Get your license 

While there is no specific licensing body for CBT, you must obtain a state license to practice therapy or psychotherapy. Most states require 2000 to 4000 hours of clinical experience, as well as passing the state exam before you can become fully licensed. After you pass the exam, you can then apply for your license in your residing state.

Step 4 - Get your accreditation 

To get accredited as a cognitive behavioral therapist, you must undergo specialized CBT training. The first part of this must be done under the supervision of an experienced and certified cognitive behavioral therapist. This training is mandatory before you can apply for a CBT training course and CBT certification. However, the hours required beforehand and the specific training required varies from institution to institution. 

For instance, the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists in the U.S (NACBT), requires individuals to have at least six years of experience in cognitive behavioral therapy after their master’s degree to apply for registration in a training course. On the other hand, the Academy of Cognitive Therapy (ACT) only requires one year of clinical and supervised experience with at least ten patients before application for training and certification is applicable. 

The Top 4 CBT Training and Certification Courses

The Top 4 CBT Training and Certification Courses

Where should you take CBT training? Below, we explore the top 4 CBT training and certification courses available. The best part? These courses are online, meaning you can complete them in your own time and within the comfort of your own home. However, all these programs do require clinical experience and a master’s degree.

These courses were rated based on their time, cost, availability, and the number of years the organization has been around for.

Beck Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

1. Beck Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The Beck Institute was founded by Aaron T Beck, the founder of CBT, and his daughter. The institute offers CBT courses many times a year online, giving you ample opportunity to enroll. 

The Essential of CBT course is only 8 hours long, with other more specialized courses consisting of 15-16 hours of coursework. Their prices are not available online unless you inquire into their programing and courses. However, the Beck Institute’s reputation makes it worth looking into.

The Massachusetts General Hospital CBT Online Program

2. The Massachusetts General Hospital CBT Online Program

At only $295 for non-physician or doctor-level professionals, this course consists of 4 weeks of classes. Yet, you must complete all course material within those 4 weeks. This is good for individuals who are less internally-motivated and need deadlines. 

They also offer courses at various times throughout the year, as well as offer further specialized CBT courses after your initial completion of the foundational program. You also have access to live weekly chats to help support you through the course’s entirety. 

NACBT Training

3. NACBT Training

With continued education programs costing around $250, the NACBT offers a variety of at-home programs that you can do in your own time. You complete your exam for certification as you listen to the CD. For the NACBT training programs, they claim to offer the same education and training as a live seminar, except you do not have to commute or pay high prices for in-person training.

4. Behavioral Health Associates

For intensive CBT training, the Behavioral Health Associates offer CBT training from March until December. The program costs $1,400, and you must register by mid-February to grab a spot. During each month of this program, an email is sent out with course material, audio, and downloads. The mp3 files make it easy to listen to the course almost anywhere. You also have easy access to your instructors via email.

CBT Training for Other Professions

Interestingly, there is a ton of CBT training available for other professions, such as life coaches. You can obtain CBT training through Udemy with Kain Ramsay. This specific course includes 52 hours of video, 34 articles, over 300 downloadable resources, and you receive certification upon completion. It also comes in at a very low cost of only $27.99. This training course is further offered in English and Italian. It is useful for parents, teachers, doctors, and more. You can also purchase and start this course at any time - meaning you do not have to wait for a start date.

Yet, this course does not provide CBT certification for therapists, meaning you will not become a cognitive behavioral therapist by taking this course. Instead, it aims to provide professionals, outside of psychotherapy, training on CBT so they can include it in their practices. 

How To Know if CBT is Right For You? 

How to know if CBT is right for you?

You are interested, but you are a little unsure. Ideally, when becoming a cognitive behavioral therapist, you should be able to handle the possible emotional baggage that comes with it. People will come to you with real problems. It can be tough at times. 

Most cognitive behavioral therapists are easily able to offer the right levels of compassion and empathy. You should have excellent listening skills, organizational skills, and communication skills. Sound like you? You might be on the right path!

Further, becoming a cognitive behavioral therapist allows you to start your own practice and create your own hours and rates. There is a certain level of freedom that comes with it. Plus, if you really desire to help others, cognitive behavioral therapy is a viable option.

However, be aware of the time and money investment involved in becoming a cognitive behavioral therapist. You have to be committed to this chosen career path since it takes many years to become a CBT therapist. 

CBT Alternatives

Maybe you are not completely sold on CBT. It is something you are researching and thinking about. Plus, CBT requires a lengthy educational background. This requires completion of all the levels of study and as aforementioned, investing a lot of time and money into becoming a CBT therapist. You are weighing your options, and there are plenty of them. In fact, there are a ton of shorter paths to similar careers - ones where you are helping others and transforming their lives. 

Rapid Transformational Therapy™ (RTT™), is an alternative you should consider. A world -renowned speaker, therapist, and bestselling author, Marisa Peer created RTT over the last 30 years, combining the best techniques in behavioral cognitive therapy, hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, NLP, and neuroscience. Together, these techniques form the most efficient way to help a person overcome distress and negative thinking patterns or behaviors in their life. Becoming a Rapid Transformational therapist offers a financially rewarding career, as well as an excellent path to help others. 

Want to learn more about RTT? Download the free RTT Course Prospectuss. Pave your way toward a fulfilling and satisfying career, and discover how you can help others transform their lives in the best and most effective way possible. 

Marisa Peer

Marisa Peer

World Class Therapist

Marisa Peer is a world renowned speaker, Rapid Transformational Therapy trainer and best-selling author.


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Regression therapy is an approach to treatment that focuses on resolving significant past events believed to be interfering with a person’s present mental and emotional wellness. Only people with sound mental health who are confident that a review of past events will not adversely impact their emotional or mental health should participate. We request that you do not participate in regression therapy if you or your treating practitioners have any past or existing concerns about your mental health.