Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (cCBT)
Before you read about computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (cCBT), make sure you have read about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) on our other pages.
What is cCBT?
Computerised CBT is simply CBT delivered by an interactive computer program. The programme guides you through the principles of CBT as a therapist would. The interactive programme works with you, helping you to understand the tools and learn the techniques that will modify your thinking. A good cCBT programme will lead you through the various stages of therapy in exactly the same way a therapist would in face-to-face sessions. An interactive cCBT programme can respond to your particular circumstances, or your problem, and ensure that the training of new ways of thinking and behaving is completed at a pace you find comfortable. Some people prefer the anonymity that can only be achieved by working on a computer.
Does cCBT work?
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK has extensively reviewed both CBT and cCBT. NICE has recommended that cCBT be made available throughout the UK NHS, for reasons of immediacy, cost-effectiveness, and reduced re-occurrence of symptoms. NICE have also recommended one cCBT program, Beating the Blues®, as being effective in trials. All of the findings by NICE are published on its website, and you can find links to various articles at the bottom of this page.
The benefit of CBT in the treatment of some forms of depression, anxiety, stress and phobias is widely recognised. The NICE Guidelines for anxiety and depression both highlight the importance of CBT in treating these conditions. At this time however, there are simply not enough therapists available to meet current needs, so waiting times can be as much as 18 months before an initial assessment is made. During this time, sufferers may develop more severe forms of their problems. Sufferers may be unable to work as a consequence, and may eventually require treatment with drugs. It has been estimated, by Lord Layard and colleagues, that the NHS requires a further 10,000 therapists to meet the need. This highlights the big problems facing people seeking help from their GPs and demonstrates the requirement for a much more accessible mode of delivery of CBT.
Computerised CBT however, can be made available much more quickly, without requiring the constant attention of a trained therapist. This means sufferers can start to feel better sooner, and may never have to resort to treatment with drugs.
So the advantages of cCBT are:
- Availability is limited only by access to a computer.
- Earlier treatment can stop symptoms getting worse.
Using computers to deliver the therapeutic tools and techniques enables sufferers to gain benefits of CBT without waiting for a course of treatment with a therapist.
Endorsements & Testimonials
- http://www.nice.org.uk/page.aspx?o=ta097 - This is the Final Appraisal Determination of the use of CCBT. It was published on the 22nd February 2006.
- http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/CG23NICEguidelineamended.pdf - This is the Nice Guidance on management of depression that was originally published in December 2004. It details the ‘stepped care’ approach (page 15), identified the benefit of CBT and referenced the 2002 NICE appraisal of CCBT
- http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/CG022NICEguidelineamended.pdf - This is the published NICE guidance on the management of anxiety including panic and phobia and was also originally published in December 2004. This identified the benefit of CBT and the potential benefit of using CCBT as per the 2002 NICE Appraisal.
- CPJ online - June 2004: CBT