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CBT Spread Initiative


The total cost of mental health disorders to Canada’s economy is estimated to be more than $50 billion annually. Primary care physicians are the only accessible option for treatment for the majority of citizens, managing up to 80% of patients’ mental health care needs.

Read the full CMHA Report for more information.


From 2015–2018, Shared Care funded a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Skills Group program with the Victoria Division of Family Practice, aiming to increase access to early, equitable, mental health support in primary care.

Objectives also included enhancing collaborative care between psychiatrists and family physicians, and expanding the knowledge and confidence of family physicians in promoting the use of evidence-based psychosocial skills with their patients. Learn about the success of the program for patients and physicians in this BCMJ article.

As communities around BC became interested in launching similar initiatives, the Shared Care Committee selected the program for provincial spread.

How the program works – skills training for patients and physicians

The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Skills Group program is an eight-week group medical visit (GMV) for adult patients (17.5-75 years old) that integrates basic neuroscience concepts with introductory mindfulness and CBT skills and teaching. The mentorship model of the GMVs allows for physicians to learn along with the patients, and to progress to a facilitator role if desired. 

How it works:

  1. Experienced facilitators of the program virtually instruct up to 16 patients on CBT skills, while also concurrently educating a physician trainee in the content and group facilitation skills.
  2. Trainees learn content and facilitation skills over 4 phases (4 x 8 patient sessions), in which they progress from a participant/observer role in Phase 1, to solo-facilitating in Phase 4 with the oversight of the experienced trainer.
  3. The physician is then qualified to offer CBT skills groups to their own patients.

Learn how to become a facilitator in your own community.

Patients’ can be referred to the program by family physicians and nurse practitioners. The CBT Skills Groups Society currently has 35 trained physician facilitators offering 30+ groups every month to any patient across British Columbia. 

Wellness CBT skills training - for physicians

Starting in the fall of 2021, Shared Care, together with the CBT Skills Groups Society, UBC CPD, and the Physician Health Program, expanded virtual groups for patients developed during the pandemic, to include physician-only wellness sessions. 


Read an overview of the program in the BCMJ article: Building a program to support doctor and patient mental health   

Program impact

More than 7,073 patients have attended CBT Skills Group training across the province.

Groups have been well-received by participants and referring physicians, with physician respondents ranking the value of CBT Skills program an average of 4.7/5. They also indicate that the program has a positive impact on their patients’ mental health, increased access to mental health care, and reduced the need to refer to Specialist services.

23 family physicians and 12 psychiatrists have been trained to become certified facilitators of the CBT Skills Groups.

117 physicians had attended the UBC-CPD wellness physician-only groups by the end of March 2022.