Guided Self Help Using CAT

CAT in a guided self help format for problematic anxiety

All areas in England now have access to brief psychological therapies for common mental health difficulties (i.e. anxiety and depression).  This is provided as part of the  NHS Talking Therapies  for anxiety and depression programme (formerly IAPT).

Step 2 of theTalking Therapies programme offers guided-self-help.  This takes an educational approach to psychological issues, offered with guidance and support.  Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs) deliver guided-self-help over six to eight 35-minute sessions.

So far, these guided self-help materials have all been based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).  There have been criticisms that this means patients don’t get enough choice about what sort of treatments they can receive.  Researchers in Sheffield therefore developed a client self help manual for anxiety using cognitive analytic theory.  This took the form of a six-session treatment offered by PWPs.

A small number of Talking Therapies programme patients and PWPs tested out this CAT-informed guided self help in a small research study.  It was found to be effective and easy to deliver, so the results were encouraging.  Most people in the study completed the manual over the full  six sessions.  Ratings of anxiety improved as much as for those using a CBT guided self help approach.

You can read an article about the pilot study at this link.

Researchers have now tested out the CAT-informed guided self help (CAT-GSH) manual for anxiety compared to cognitive behavioural guided self-help (CBT-GSH) in IAPT.  This was in a much larger research project, called a “partially randomised patient preference trial”.  The researchers published the results in July 2023.

271 people took part in the study, and many more participants opted to have CAT-GSH than CBT-GSH.  Outcomes for each group were very similar, and the results showed that CAT Guided Self Help is equally effective as a treatment option for the treatment of anxiety. You can read the full results of the patient preference trial at this link.

A study looking at the experience of the PWPs learning and using this new guided self-help approach has also been published – you can read the abstract here.

We thank Stephen Kellett for helpful contributions to this page.

Guided Self Help Using CAT by ACAT Public Engagement Team
CC BY-SA 4.0 

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