How is CBT with Older People different: Age appropriate CBT with older people

The world is experiencing a profound and irreversible demographic shift meaning therapists are much more likely to come into contact with many more and much older people. Despite a new curriculum within IAPT for CBT with Older People, therapists often feel ill-prepared to meet the needs of this new cohort of older people (Laidlaw 2015).  This workshop provides a review of contemporary approaches to CBT with older people and provides a way for therapists to review their own preparedness for working with older clients. The workshop covers normal ageing, how CBT may be different with older people and an age-appropriate approach to CBT.

CBT is particularly appropriate as an intervention for older people as it is skills enhancing, present-oriented, problem-focussed, straightforward to use and effective. While depression and the anxiety disorders in later life are often misunderstood as a ‘natural’ consequence of challenges and losses associated with ageing. This workshop helps therapists examine how CBT can be very empowering of older people in bringing about positive changes. This workshop provides a number of key clinical examples that showcase some of the challenges therapists may face when working with older people who may present with chronic and complex anxiety and depression.

While CBT for late life depression in later life is the most systematically researched psychological treatment approach for use with older people, much less emphasis has been placed on understanding process issues in working with older people. This workshop will address these process issues and provides an overview of a new age appropriate approach to CBT that builds upon traditional Beck models of CBT. The main elements of an age-appropriate approach to CBT outlined in the day are attitudes to ageing, cohort values at a generational and familial level, optimizing functioning in comorbidity, age-appropriate case conceptualization and wisdom enhancement.

Selected Readings

Laidlaw, K. (2015) Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Older People: An Introduction.  London: SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-1-84920-459-0

Laidlaw, K.  & Knight, B.G (Eds.,). (2008) Handbook of the Assessment and Treatment of Emotional Disorders in Late Life: A Guide to Concepts and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-856945-9

Laidlaw, K., Thompson, L.W., Siskin-Dick, L.,  & Gallagher-Thompson, D. (2003) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Older People. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-47111-1

Kishita, N. & Laidlaw, K. (2017). Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorder:  Is CBT Equally Effective in Adults of Working Age and Older Adults? Clinical Psychology Review, 52, 124-136.

Laidlaw, K. & Kishita, N. (2015) Age Appropriate Augmented CBT for Enhancing Treatment Outcome with Older People. Geropsych: The Journals of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry. 28, 57-66

Laidlaw, K. (2013) ViewPoint: A deficit in psychotherapeutic care for older people with depression and anxiety. Gerontology, 59(6), 549-556.


Ken Laidlaw

Professor Ken Laidlaw is Head of Department of Clinical Psychology, Programme Director of the ClinPsyD Clinical Psychology Training Programme and is a member of the Medical School Executive Committee within Norwich Medical School, at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Professor Laidlaw is also currently honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust, having for many years served as a Professional Lead of an Older Adult Clinical Psychology Service in the NHS in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is a Practitioner Psychologist Registered with Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). He maintains ongoing research activity in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for late life depression and anxiety, especially with complex, chronic and comorbid conditions. He carried out the first UK RCT of CBT for late life depression, published in 2008, and more recently (2017) published the first age-comparison meta-analysis of CBT for late life GAD. Ken was invited to provide Keynote and Clinical Practice Workshop at the 8th World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, in Melbourne, Australia in June 2016.

From 2000 to 2001 he was visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania (PENN) in Philadelphia with Aaron T. Beck, the father of CBT. He has a long and productive association with Professors Larry W. Thompson and Dolores Gallagher-Thompson at Stanford University, USA, the pioneers of CBT with Older People. In 2016 he was senior and lead author of a new clinical guidelines for High Intensity CBT with Older People, available free on the IAPT website. He has recently authored a new book that aims to answer the question as to how CBT may be different with older people, Laidlaw, K. (2015) Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Older People: An Introduction.  Was published by Sage in 2015. Currently he is developing research into age-appropriate CBT and is just completing a pilot series of single cases examining outcome. Ken is also developing ideas for delivery of a ‘training for trainers’ CBT with Older People package of training materials.

Additional Information

Cancellation & changes policy

If you cancel more than 14 days prior to your booked event, we will refund your fee minus a charge of 15% to cover our administration costs. We regret that cancellations 14 days or less before the booked event cannot be refunded or changed/transferred.

If you wish to change/transfer your booking after confirmation we will do our best to accommodate you if you notify us 14 days prior to your booked event, and if there is space to do so. However there will be an administration charge of £15 per change/transfer.


Workshops often contain clinical material. This is always anonymised as far as possible but delegates are none the less reminded to respect confidentiality.

All that is discussed in your therapy sessions will be treated as confidential, with the following exceptions.
We are required to seek supervision by our professional body (The British Psychological Society or equivalent) as a means of ensuring good practice. We will usually inform your referrer of your progress, but the details that we disclose will be discussed with you. We do have a statutory obligation to break confidentiality under rare circumstances, namely, if we believe that a client is of danger to themselves or to others (under the Mental Health Act, 2001) or if we believe that a child is at actual risk of physical or sexual abuse (The Children Act, Section 47, 1989).

If we felt that it would be helpful to request additional medical, social or legal information, we could only do this with your consent. Similarly, should another medical, social or legal professional request information from us, we would not release this without your consent.


OCTC makes every effort to ensure that this programme is delivered as advertised. However, should a presenter have to cancel, we will endeavour to find another suitable presenter. We will inform attendees as soon as is reasonably practical and, if requested, will offer a refund. In the rare event that we are unable to substitute a presenter, we may cancel a workshop and refund payments already made by attendees. OCTC will not refund travel and accommodation costs that attendees may incur.
All the workshops in this programme are carried out by highly experienced therapists and trainers. The individual presenter is responsible for the content of the workshop and any views expressed do not necessarily represent those of OCTC.
Although highly informative, none of the open workshops or workshop series confer a formal qualification or assurance of competence in CBT (or a specialist area of CBT) since we are unable to assess attendee competency within the training event. However, credit and award-bearing courses that lead to formal qualifications are offered by OCTC in conjunction with the University of Oxford. More about these courses is available on our website

Levels of competence

Before booking a place on a workshop, please ensure that it is pitched at the appropriate level of competence for you. The guide to levels is as follows:


Basic workshops are for people from a variety of backgrounds, who have at least one year’s clinical experience. Cognitive behavioural knowledge is not necessary for attendance at these workshops, though in practice, a number of attendees will have some skills in the area, and are refreshing/updating their knowledge.


Intermediate workshops are directed towards people who already have knowledge of CBT, and experience in using cognitive formulations and treatment methods – for instance, they are able to identify and test automatic thoughts, and design behavioural experiments. Most participants will be using CBT as part of their clinical practice, and may still be acquiring new CBT skills.


Advanced courses are directed towards those professionals who use CBT routinely as part of their clinical practice. They have probably undertaken a significant number of training courses and/or workshops, and use a broad range of cognitive behavioural strategies to work with a range of presentations at varying levels of complexity.

Making reservations

Bookings can only be considered confirmed after we have received your online registration or application form and payment (or invoicing details, including an official purchase order document). Please note that registration to workshops closes 7 days prior to the event date.

If you are booking a workshop place for someone else, you must complete your own details in the billing field, but ENTER THE WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS NAME/ADDRESS in the shipping field. If you wish to order items using a paper order form instead of online, you can view or download an order form in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. Once downloaded, print it out, fill it in, and send off with your payment [cheque made payable to OXFORD HEALTH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST] to the address on the form.


The cost of the workshops includes hot drinks on arrival, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, but not usually lunch unless stated. However, for workshops that do include lunch, if you have any special dietary requirements please let us know at the time of application.

Special needs

We welcome applications from diverse backgrounds. If you have any particular needs, please contact us
prior to booking.