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New Tools for Mental Health Professionals: Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT) in Primary Care

Posted on: 25 Jul 06


Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) combines two very effective kinds of psychotherapy delivered face to face by medical therapists

New Tools for Mental Health Professionals: Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT) in Primary Care
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) combines two very effective kinds of psychotherapy delivered face to face by medical therapists: Behaviour therapy helps weaken the connections between troublesome situations and habitual reactions such as fear, depression or rage.  Cognitive therapy teaches how certain thinking patterns may be causing the symptoms, by giving a distorted picture of what’s going on, crating anxiety, depression or anger without rational explanation.  CBT is a very powerful tool for stopping symptoms and getting life back on track.  Basic strategies and principles of behaviour change are supported by scientific research and can be applied flexibly and creatively to particular persons in particular situations.1
What is Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CCBT?
This is a brand new method of delivering CBT by computer or over the internet, which following randomised clinical trials, is now recommended by NICE2 and has been shown to be as effective as face to face therapy.  However, this method of treatment saves time by using trained nurses and support workers and is more cost effective as a result.  CCBT can provide more convenient and private access to treatment, reduce waiting list time and allow access to treatment in small practices.  The advent of CCBT means mental health professionals can prioritise their caseloads and effectively select the best mode of treatment for the patient.
What is involved with CCBT treatment?
Patients attend an appointment with CCBT registered GP practices to complete a questionnaire conducted by the Nurse or support worker, often a graduate mental health worker. This step is vital to ensure the patient is suitable for CCBT and the GP oversees the selection of the right programme for the individual. The patient is trained to access the programme over the internet, using a secure ID and password, which is confidential to the practice. Treatment involves 8 – 10 sessions, usually one session per week, aided by telephone calls from the support worker which amount to 1 hour over the whole programme. Anonymised data is available for audit by the practice or PCT to compare outcomes with traditional CBT.
What CCBT Programmes are Available?

Beating the BluesTM is a cost effective and time efficient way of helping people suffering with anxiety and depression to get better and stay better3.  It is clinically proven, drug free treatment which integrates best practice in psychological therapies with advanced multimedia software.  Patients using Beating the Blues benefit from 30 additional depression free-days in the 6 months after treatment.  The programme was developed and evaluated by Ultrasis in collaboration with a research team from the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London.  For more information visit the company website or ring 0207 566 3900


FearFighter (FF) is based on over 20 years of development and has been extensively tested in clinical randomised controlled risk trials (RCTs) and open studies at the Institute of Psychiatry and Imperial College4.  FearFighter (FF) is an internet delivered course therapy which aids in the treatment if patients suffering fro panic/anxiety and phobia and can offer help where anxiety is co-morbid with depression.


FearFighter helps work out exactly what causes the fear, and patients learn how to face the fear until it subsides – this is called “exposure therapy”.  It is a 10 session, practice based, self help treatment system.  During the sessions, FearFighter (FF) allows patients to identify specific problems and to develop ritualistic treatment goals.  For further information visit or the company website or telephone 01384 829124

  1. John Winston Bush, PhD New York Institute for Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies
  2. Depression and anxiety – computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT) NICE guidance TA097 February 2006
  3. Proudfoot, J., Goldberg, D., Mann, A., Everitt, I. & Gray, J.A. (2003) Computerised, interactive, multimedia cognitive behavioural programme for anxiety and depression in general practice.  Psychological Medicine, 33, 217-277
  4. FearFighter, Cope, BTSteps: J Clin Psycol / In Session, 2004, 60, 1-11.  Computer-clinic and future directions.  Gega L, Marks IM, Mataix-Cols D


Author: Jim Melling


Healthcare Management Consultant for Rowan Ltd.

Jim Melling - PharmiWeb Field Reporter

Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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