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Case Study - Andrew Beck

Although traditionally our staff volunteering abroad fall into the physical health category, Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr Andrew Beck has bucked the trend by training staff in Chennai, South India to use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to treat mental health patients.

Having worked at the organisation for eight years, Andrew who is based at Salford CAMHS at Pendleton Gateway has helped establish a training programme in India.

Andrew said: "There is wide recognition that the nature of the relationship between thought and suffering within CBT can be traced to Buddhist traditions developed in India 2,500 years ago. Yet there has been little CBT development within Indian mental health services. A recent review identified only 40 papers on Behaviour Therapy or CBT in Indian journals since the 1940s. The majority of these were single case reports and although the topic is covered on some mental health training programmes there are no specialist CBT courses running in India."

He added: "There have been several prominent academics and practitioners  in the field of mental health in India calling for greater investment in training in CBT over the past few years. Although pockets of expertise do exist amongst therapists generally trained in the UK or USA, there is no structure of accreditation, supervision or training for therapists."

Chennai Lamp LightingStaff from our organisation and the Salford Cognitive Therapy Training Centre have been working with Dr Virudhagirinathan and colleagues at the CARE Institute of Behaviour Science in Chennai to develop a modular training programme, using UK trainers to develop Indian expertise with a view towards making the country self-sufficient in CBT within five years.

In one of five visits by our staff, Andrew ran two introductory days on CBT for over 40 mental health staff in Chennai in collaboration with the CARE. He said: "Initial feedback was very good and there was a consensus amongst participants of a clear need for further training and that the model suited the Indian mental health context."

A five day workshop was also run in Chennai, which is the first part of a modular programme of training based on the curriculum developed by Salford and guided by the BABCP Core Curriculum Reference Document. This was so successful that a five day follow on course was also organised. Over the next five years, the plan is for several staff from Salford and our organisation will volunteer their time to provide training modules to Indian mental health staff working with children and adults towards international standards of training and qualification.

It is hoped that the formation of an Indian Association of Cognitive Behaviour Therapists will be a platform for developing strong links with British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapists. The programme will also be an opportunity for CBT therapists from the UK to develop skills in using the therapy in cross-cultural contexts, enhancing their own therapeutic work with diverse ethnic communities here.

Andrew said: "The quality of trainees on the courses so far and their thoughtful approach to using these therapy ideas in an Indian context have been extremely stimulating, as well as improving my own practice as a therapist and trainer. The scale of developing CBT in such a vast country poses considerable challenges and I am very exited about the prospect of developing online resources using the expertise already developed within the Trust as a way of meeting some of the training needs there"

PresentationThe programme has attracted considerable support from both the British High Commission and the British Council who appreciate that the UK is a world centre of excellence in CBT training. There has also been significant media interest including coverage on state television and in all major newspapers in India. An academic paper evaluating the training programme is currently in preparation.

There are high hopes for the future of this programme which is currently looking for funding and partners to develop RCT in India. Although many staff are willing to volunteer, the team are looking for new partners in India to increase capacity for training. They are also organising a 'Training CBT in Low and Middle Income countries' Special Interest Group of the BABCP with a launch conference in Manchester for 2014.