Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My review of the CBT Foundational skills training at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre

        The training at the Hincks-Dellcrest Center in Toronto is renowned amongst therapists in this area. They offer treatment and a variety of certifications as well as full-out intensive trainings for social workers and other mental health counselling professionals. I was excited to attend my first course and although it was on a subject I felt I already knew a lot about: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - I suspected that I would learn something new and at least leave the training with a more solid understanding of using CBT in direct practice. I attended the training with two clinicians from a clinic I'm currently working at who are both more senior than I and have been practicing CBT for longer as well. I was careful to seat myself amongst other CBT newbies so that I wouldn't depend on my colleagues knowledge or answers during group work and discussions at the training - I wanted the full experience of learning CBT.

During our first break at the Hincks-Dellcrest Center
        The room was packed despite the weather. The presenter, Hester Dunlap appeared engaged and really knew the material. I believe that this is where the strength of professional training can be found, a curious and interested audience meets a practicing professional doing the actual work. For me, learning about the processes and techniques of CBT was enlightening, although somewhat repetitive as I have read a number of books and attended other behavior therapy trainings but the audience, again composed of social workers and other mental health counselling professionals brought their examples, questions they had about clients whom they have or currently were working with. This really stimulated the conversation and brought the learning that we were doing into our own realm and applying it with our clients. The cases that were presented as examples for the course were not pathologizing but presented a mature male and mature female, each were experiencing unique difficulties related to family life as well as transitions in their life. Although the scenarios were tastefully written, the participants at the training still focused on the strengths and protective factors from both of the case examples. This was refreshing and after day one left me excited for the second full-day of training.

        Day two lived up to my excitement. Again, despite the weather, the room was packed for day two and the audience was really engaged. There were many questions from audience members about clients they were seeing and the training became more practical with every example. Day two moved away from the manualized portion of the Cognitive Behavioral Treatment and focused on exposure as well as getting creative in session with exposure techniques. As I listened to the presenter I started having this feeling that what I was hearing was familiar but not entirely related to CBT. Sure enough, at the end of the presentation, our presenter, Hester Dunlap spoke about the "third wave" of behavioural therapies: Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT). I was so excited to hear reference made to ACT that I almost cheered!

It was great to see ACT concepts used and spoken about during a CBT presentation. This winter I will be attending intensive ACT training in Montreal, I will be sure to post about that!

Thanks for continuing to check out the site. Now that the fall semester is winding down, I will be able to write more!

Timothy Gordon
Hamilton, ON


  1. super cool I would love to go to something like that. I am in graduate school for my masters.. what a beating at times HA HA..Would love to learn any new stuff you come across.. i think we can never stop learning as Social Workers

    1. Hi Donna!

      Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment! I am really big into ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) which is the "third wave" of behavioural therapies. If you're into CBT at all, I recommend checking out ACT - it's not just an exposure technology but a great experiential approach to cognitive therapy that clients find practical. Also, I admire the position of psychological flexibility rather than restructuring. In the future I plan on writing a LOT more about ACT.

      Are you doing your master of social work?

  2. Dear Blast from the Past,

    Great to see you are into something that is totally up your alley!!

    Thought I would comment!! Hope all is well!!

    1. Thanks so much Carly! It's wild to hear from you. You should get in touch sometime and we can catch up!