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 Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

Step 2 of the IAPT 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, guided self-help materials in IAPT are all 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 IAPT 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 full 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 is in a much larger research project, called a “partially randomised patient preference trial”.  The study is now completed and is in the process of being written up for publication.  A study looking at the experience of the PWPs learning and using this new guided self-help approach has already been published – you can read the abstract here.

You can read an outline of this patient preference trial at this link.

Details of the trial’s design and aims were also published in August 2020 in a journal article at this link: A pragmatic patient preference trial of cognitive behavioural versus cognitive analytic guided self-help for anxiety disorders

Thanks are extended to Steve 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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