Psychoeducation: Essential for Good Outcomes in cCBT

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As part of UK eHealth Week, we will be sharing with you a series of guest blogs from our online therapy partners, highlighting some of the benefits of eHealth and drawing on their own experiences, both here and abroad. Today we hear from Diane Lanigan, Chief Operating Officer at CCBT Ltd on the importance of psychoeducation for good outcomes in online therapy.

Demand for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is growing faster than the NHS can provide it. In our increasingly hectic world, more and more people are feeling overwhelmed and turning to professionals for help. But the NHS doesn’t have the resources to meet this burgeoning demand. We need a new solution, and we need it now. Now that so many of us these days have access to a computer, online or computerised CBT can be part of that solution.

Several weeks ago I answered a call from the distressed mother of a 17-year-old girl. Her only child, who is attending her first year at university, was stressed over exams and riddled with anxiety. Her mother told me that her daughter wasn’t able to cope or even go outside. This problem didn’t just start yesterday, it had been going on for some time. Her daughter had been seen by CAMHS the previous year, but her anxiety problems were not resolved. This time she went to see her GP, who recommended FearFighter™. Her mother was anxiously trying to find out how to get it.

At CCBT Ltd, we get calls every day from people whose GP has recommended FearFighter or who have come across the FearFighter recommendation on the NHS website. FearFighter is an online course for anxiety, phobia and panic disorder. It is evidence-based and is the only product for the treatment of anxiety to be endorsed by a national regulator – the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK (TA097).

The most common questions we get asked are; “is it available on the NHS?” and, “Do you think it would be suitable for me?” FearFighter is available on the NHS but only in some areas. In those areas that it isn’t available on the NHS,  the patient (or their parent) can choose to purchase it directly from our website.

My advice to the woman who called me was to learn as much as she could about her daughter’s condition, so that she could make a well informed decision on what to do. I recommended that she read everything she could on CBT and anxiety treatment, that she find out what the experts are doing and what they recommend. It’s a lot to ask from a person who has no medical training and who is desperate for her child to get better fast. After all, trying to look up something on the internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant. I told her about Brave, our online CBT program for children and teens experiencing anxiety. I explained that many parents also enrol in our program in order to learn more about anxiety and how it affects their children.

CCBT Ltd has a suite of online programmes that help treat people with anxiety, depression, sleep problems, addiction, obsessive compulsive disorders and more. These programmes are based on multiple sessions which are available 24/7 and can be completed over several weeks. FearFighter has nine sessions, the first six of which are comprised of psychoeducation and teach people how to manage anxiety. Our insomnia program, Restore™ is also heavily focused on education. People can learn things such as what a realistic sleep expectation is, and how a clock in a bedroom can contribute to insomnia.

The more people know about their condition, the better they can make decisions on what is right for them. Through education, people are empowered to take charge of their own welfare and get their lives back on track.

CBT can be an effective intervention for people at trying times in their lives. Computerised CBT is no different. It is not suitable for everyone, but it can really help individuals with mild to moderate mental health conditions.

The current demand for mental health treatments greatly exceeds the NHS resources. And it’s getting worse; the Mental Health Foundation estimates that by 2030 there will be 2 million more adults in the U.K. suffering with mental health challenges. Let’s start now. Let’s educate people so they can be more involved in their own treatments.

FearFighter was not available on the NHS in the area where our anxious mother lived. She bought FearFighter for her daughter because her GP recommended it. Her daughter is currently going through the programme and the more this 17-year old can learn about CBT, and anxiety the more likely she will improve her outcome. If she successfully completes this programme, it can have a huge impact on her life, which makes our work worthwhile. If we could empower sufferers everywhere with the tools  to treat themselves, the impact would be tremendous.