Introduction to the Method of Levels: Bringing about change by shifting awareness

This practical workshop is designed as an introduction to the Method of Levels, a cognitive therapy based on Perceptual Control Theory (PCT). It is a person-centred, metacognitive, and transdiagnostic approach to therapy, based on active listening and questioning. Clients are assisted in generating solutions and gaining control over their distress, emphasising focus on process rather than content. MOL can be used to enhance the effectiveness of treatments for specific problems and disorders, and also to address issues in the delivery of treatment such as lack of engagement, poor motivation, and resistance. The workshop will provide a basic introduction to the underlying theory of PCT but focus mainly on applied practice of MOL and how this therapy can be used in isolation or within CBT practice.


09:00 Registration, tea and coffee
09:30 Workshop starts
16:30 Workshop ends

Increasing a client's awareness of their problem(s) is either implicitly or explicitly indicated in many cognitive behavioural therapies. Through completion of activities such as thought diaries, clients may become more aware of the mechanisms underlying their identified problems; subsequently enabling them to identify important areas to target with a clearer view on what can lead to change and ultimately, improvement. Later developments such as schema focussed work, and guided discovery also utilise the mobility of awareness and perceived control to access different aspects of a client's consciousness. Third wave cognitive behaviour therapies such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Metacognitive Therapy address awareness and control directly. Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) provides a theoretical explanation for the importance of control by explaining a proposed link between awareness and a process of change called ‘reorganisation’. The Method of Levels (MOL) is a cognitive technique based on PCT that specifically aims to direct a client’s attention to higher cognitive levels, enabling them to become more aware of the nature of their difficulties. From this point of view a problem solving perspective is pursued, largely through a metacognitive process.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the workshop the participants will have had opportunities to:
• Understand the role of perceived control in symptom reduction
• Identify the role of control in their current practices
• Explore the implications of incorporating more control activities in their current practices
• Participate in activities specifically aimed at developing perceived control and awareness
• Experience shifting awareness of others and increasing perceived control through discussing their own problems
• Clarify the nature of control, how it can be disrupted, and how it might be restored


Sara Tai is a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester and an honorary clinical psychologist within Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Trust. She has worked as a senior clinician within community mental health services for people with severe and enduring mental disorders and also early intervention psychosis services. She is an experienced practitioner, trainer and supervisor of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for people with complex problems and their families. Her research focuses on the science and practice of CBT, cognitive theory and cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis and bipolar disorders, early intervention and the prevention of psychosis, bipolar disorders and mood-swings. She has published in international peer-review journals and is the author of several book chapters. She has presented her research at major international conferences, and in the print and broadcast media. She is currently involved in research on psychological interventions for psychosis in Texas, Philadelphia, Illinois, Beijing and the UK.

Dr Warren Mansell has been involved in CBT research since 1994 when he began his DPhil on cognitive processes in social anxiety at the University of Oxford with David M. Clark and Anke Ehlers. After completing his Clinical Psychology training at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, he focused his research and clinical work on CBT for bipolar disorder, transdiagnostic approaches to CBT, and the use of Perceptual Control Theory. Warren Mansell is the author or coauthor of over 60 publications, including the following books: Cognitive and Behavioural Processes Across Psychological Disorders (2004), The Bluffer’s Guide to Psychology (2006), Coping with Fears and Phobias: A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Facing Your Anxieties (2007), and The Oxford Guide to Metaphors in CBT (2010). He has been closely involved in the annual conference of the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) since 2000, and now co-chairs the scientific committee with Roz Shafran.

Warren was awarded this year's May Davidson award from the Division of Clinical Psychology for his outstanding contribution to the development of the profession within the first 10 years of his career.

Booking Information

Target audience

Anyone working with people with psychological distress at varying levels of severity. This workshop provides an opportunity to broaden one’s theoretical understanding of psychological therapies and mechanisms of change. It is also a very practical workshop on applied methods of working with people with a range of difficulties, as well as for working in situations where engagement might be difficult.

Workshop fees

DCP Members £25 (+VAT)
BPS Members £50 (+VAT)
Non Members £75 (+VAT)

How to book


Society's London Office

30 Tabernacle Street



Thu, 08/09/2011 (All day)
DCP Membership Services Unit, BPS Learning Centre