A Day on the Third Wave - The Weekend University

Explore how third wave approaches to psychotherapy can help you improve your wellbeing – includes practical exercises and information on the growing evidence base for these pioneering forms of therapy.

The first wave of cognitive therapy focused heavily on behaviourist approaches to change, such as classical conditioning (Pavlov), and operant conditioning (Skinner).

The second wave came in the 1970s, with the arrival of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

CBT is based on the idea that thoughts lead to feelings, which lead to behaviours, and therefore the emphasis now switched to changing how we think.

We are now in the era of ‘third wave’ psychotherapy.

Interestingly, the focus of the third wave isn’t on changing thoughts or feelings themselves. Instead, these approaches aim to change our relationship to our thoughts and feelings, so we can enjoy greater wellbeing in day to day life.

Integrating techniques from CBT with concepts from neuroscience, mindfulness, evolutionary theory, and the science of compassion, third wave approaches have the potential to make a valuable contribution to the work of any psychotherapist, counsellor, psychologist or coach.

With practice, they can help us recognise how we become entangled in streams of worry, self-criticism and ruminative thinking, and break free from these patterns to improve our wellbeing and realise more of our potential.

During this online conference, you’ll explore the rapidly developing evidence base for Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and learn how these pioneering approaches can offer an effective solution to many of the mental health problems we face today. 

The day will combine presentations with practical exercises, and will feature talks from three of the UK’s leading clinical psychologists. It is an introductory conference, and no prior experience or knowledge of any of the approaches is required.


Compassion Focused Therapy; how neuroscience, mindfulness, and evolutionary science have informed the development of CFT, why developing positive feelings associated with contentment, safeness and soothing can play a major role in managing distress and promoting wellbeing, and how compassion can be ‘put to work’ to alleviate suffering – Dr Chris Irons, PhD

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy; the three foundations upon which DBT rests – zen, behaviourism and dialectics (and how these integrate), what dialectics are, the vital role they play in the therapeutic process, and how DBT can be applied to treat a wide range of mental health problems – Professor Michaela Swales, PhD

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy; the science and theory that informs MBCT, why it is particularly helpful for treating recurrent depression and anxiety disorders, and how MBCT can be applied for greater self-acceptance; enabling you to face life’s difficulties with self-compassion instead of self criticism – Dr Cinzia Pezzolesi, PhD 

You’ll learn how third wave approaches can help you improve your own wellbeing, but also how they can be applied to help others do the same.

Event Schedule:

  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: Compassion Focused Therapy – Dr Chris Irons, PhD
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm: Dialectical Behaviour Therapy – Professor Michaela Swales, PhD
  • 3:00pm – 3:30pm: Afternoon break
  • 3:30pm – 5:00pm: Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy – Dr Cinzia Pezzolesi

Full Day Pass: £49.99 (includes VAT + Booking Fee)

Student/Unwaged: £26.99 (includes VAT + Booking Fee)


Sunday 20th December 2020

09:30 – 17:00 GMT

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20/12/2020 09:30 AM
20/12/2020 5:00 PM
Online Video Conference
The Weekend University – A Day On the Third Wave


Online Video Conference

Lectures & Speakers

An Introduction to Compassion Focused Therapy – Dr Chris Irons, PhD

What is compassion? How is it beneficial for people? And how can it be harnessed directly as part of a therapy?  In this talk, we’ll take a look at some of the key theories underneath and practices of CFT, and see how this can be a powerful way of working with distress and suffering.

This presentation will help you learn some of the key basics of CFT, and have an opportunity to try out a few CFT interventions and see how these may be useful. At the end of the workshop, you’ll have a better sense of what CFT is, how it can be helpful, and hopefully energise you to find out more about CFT in the future! 

Preparation Recommendations:

Books and Articles: 


Dr Chris Irons - The Weekend University

Dr Chris Irons, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist, and Director at Balanced Minds, an independent psychology practice in London set up to bring compassion focused approaches to individuals and organisations in London and the UK. In his clinical work, he uses Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT; Gilbert, 2009; Gilbert & Irons, 2005) in working with people suffering from a variety of mental health problems, but also in bringing these ideas to the general public. He is an internationally recognised trainer and supervisor of CFT, and the author of a number of CFT books, including: “The Compassionate Mind Workbook”, “CFT from the Inside Out” and “CFT for Difficult Emotions”.

Chris also works with the Compassionate Mind Foundation, a charitable organisation aiming to: “Promote wellbeing through the scientific understanding and application of compassion”.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy – Professor Michaela Swales, PhD

Have you ever wondered what exactly DBT is?  What are its essential components? What exactly are dialectics and why are they relevant to a psychological therapy?  In this presentation, Professor Michaela Swales, an international expert in DBT, introduces you to the essential elements of DBT: underlying theories, treatment structure and treating clinical cases.  

This presentation is aimed at those who know very little about DBT and who may be considering whether or not it is an appropriate intervention for their context, or for those who have heard about DBT and are curious to know more.  There will be an opportunity to discuss the presented material and to assess whether DBT would be a good fit for your organisation or your clinical context.

Preparation Recommendations

Professor Michaela Swales - The Weekend University

Michaela Swales, PhD, is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with BCUHB and Reader in Clinical Psychology on the North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme at Bangor University. She trained in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy in Seattle in 1994 and 1995 with Marsha Linehan and for twenty years ran a clinical programme for suicidal young people in an inpatient service. 

After completing specialist supervision in DBT, she became one of the founder members of the UK DBT Training Team in 1997 and Director of the Training Team in 2002. She has trained more than a thousand professionals in DBT, seeding over 400 programmes, in both the UK and further afield. She is the co-author of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy: Distinctive Features, which had its second edition published by Routledge in 2016 and Changing Behavior in DBT: Problem-Solving in Action, published by Guilford in 2015.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy: An Introduction – Dr Cinzia Pezzolesi 

Mindfulness based approaches such as MBCT are on the spotlight and it is wonderful that these concepts are getting more attention. However, as more people are introduced to these practices, there is often a misunderstanding of what MBCT really is.  This webinar will explore the main characteristics of MBCT, its scientific base, and will try to clarify some common misconceptions or confusion with similar approaches. The session will also explore how MBCT can help us recognize how we become entangled in streams of worries, self-criticism and ruminative thinking, and slowly learn to break free from these patterns to improve our well-being.  No prior mindfulness experience or knowledge required.

Learning outcomes:

  • Be able to define MBCT and its unique features 
  • Explore the scientific evidence for the use of MBCT in depression relapses
  • Differentiate MBCT from other Mindfulness-based interventions such as MBSR
  • Understand how to practice and teach MBCT 

Preparation Recommendations:

Dr Cinzia Pezzolesi - The Weekend University

Dr Cinzia Pezzolesi is a chartered Clinical Psychologist and senior lecturer in mental health and wellbeing. She qualified as a mindfulness teacher at the University of Bangor and as CBT therapist at Oxford University. 

Dr Pezzolesi is currently acting as the Clinical Director of The Mindfulness Project (UK), and over the years has developed a strong research interest around wellbeing and mental health in various health care settings. Her areas of expertise include anxiety, depression, eating disorders and mental health and wellbeing at work.

Cinzia also has a passion for Mindful Eating, which has led her to train as a Mindful Eating teacher and to develop professional training for other like-minded professionals. She is the Vice President of the Centre for Mindful Eating in the USA, a space dedicated to the education of professionals and general public around food and the interconnection between our bodies and minds.

What TWU attendees are saying:

    5 star review  What an intense and heartening day, Jan 28th at Birkbeck U venue. Despite being crowded (testiment to the desire for these events and the calibre) we were comfortable enough to be riveted by the material for hours. I appreciated the free coffee, because the day was long for those like me who come from outside the city. I look forward to the slides being sent to fill out my notes. Fellow audients were warm and attending for a variety of reasons, and are the second fab reason to be there for the day.

    Anne Perry Avatar Anne Perry
    January 29, 2018

    positive review  I have attended 7 weekend University days and now I do not want to miss one because they have all been fantastic and worth dragging myself away from my lie in on a Sunday for. Each of the sessions I have attended have had excellent speakers talking about fascinating areas of Psychology. Having previously studied psychology I really enjoy delving back into the world of attending lectures and absorbing information again without the stress of exams or essays. But even if you have no psychology background I recommend coming to these events, especially if you see a topic you like you will not regret it! Niall not only organises these amazing event days but also now we have access to podcasts and he takes the time to organise a social after the event to meet fellow psychology enthusiasts as well as provide clear and easy instructions on how to get there, a certificate to say you attended the event and even lunch place suggestions which are little added extras which make the whole experience great. I am very glad to have the weekend university in my life and thank Niall and the team for making this happen.

    Hannah Alice Howell Avatar Hannah Alice Howell
    April 4, 2019

    5 star review  This was my first Weekend University event at Birkbeck for a day on neuroscience. Great speakers, thoroughly engaging and incredibly interesting. Also great to have a social networking event afterwards at a local pub. Ticket for A Day on Mental Health already purchased! Thank you Niall for organising!

    Tania Read Avatar Tania Read
    May 5, 2018
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The Weekend University seeks to guarantee an excellent learning experience. If you are not fully satisfied with the day, you will receive 100% of your money back, and we will cover the cost of your travel to and from the venue.