Could computerised CBT be the right therapy for you?

Posted: 01/06/20

Woman with curly hair in a yellow jumper sits on her sofa with a cup of tea, looking at her laptop

The teams at CNTW’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services in North Cumbria and Sunderland are reminding people that they are still offering a range of effective programmes of online therapy.

Suitable for people experiencing mild to moderate depression, or anxiety problems such as worry or panic, computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (cCBT) can help you learn new skills to overcome the challenges you face, and improve your mental wellbeing. There are also new programmes to support people who are struggling with the changes brought about by COVID-19.

Richard Thwaites, Lead Consultant Clinical Psychologist at First Step in Cumbria, says: “We use a programme called SilverCloud, which you can download to your computer, tablet or mobile phone. You can use this anywhere, at any time that suits you, so it’s really convenient and user-friendly.

“Especially at the moment, when people are having to adapt to lockdown restrictions and a new schedule as a result of COVID-19, you can be sure that cCBT will fit around whatever else is going on in your life at the moment.”

One person who has recently completed a SilverCloud cCBT course told the team: “This programme has helped a lot; each module gave me a better understanding of my thoughts, feelings and definitely my triggers.” Another person added, “I’ve recently completed the programme and can honestly say the more I got into it the more I took from it. Looking back over several weeks, I feel like a different person.”

People usually work through the modules over about eight weeks, which can be adapted to help with a range common problems like stress, anxiety, depression, and coping with a chronic illness.

This video from SilverCloud introduces the programme and shows you what you can expect:

Interactive activities in the modules help you to digest what you’re learning about yourself and put it into practice. Alongside the modules there’s also a journal to help you express how you are feeling, and relaxation exercises. Other activities and tools can be ‘unlocked’ by your Supporter if they think relevant as you progress through the course.

“People work through the modules themselves, but one of our Supporter staff will regularly review how they are doing and provide feedback, suggestions and extra advice based on what each person needs,” adds Richard.

“You can send messages to your Supporter about how you’re feeling, what you’re struggling with, or any questions you have. The replies from your Supporter are stored, so you can go back at any time to revisit what they said to you.

“Some people find that they prefer talking to their Supporter via messages on SilverCloud to talking to a therapist; there’s no pressure, as you can take as long as you want to write down your thoughts, and you can take all the time you need to process their reply.”

The modules have all been designed by clinical experts using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a very effective treatment for mental health problems. You can read more on the NHS website about how CBT works.

Lisa Atkinson, Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner at the Sunderland Psychological Wellbeing Service, says: “There is lots of evidence that SilverCloud’s cCBT programmes can be really effective for people who are trying to overcome problems like moderate anxiety or depression. That’s why we use them; we know that they work.

“Like any type of therapy, cCBT isn’t a good fit for everyone, but we see that people who are motivated to work through the modules get so much out of it. It empowers people to take charge of managing their mental health.”

One of the biggest benefits of cCBT is that after your course has finished, you can continue to apply the things you’ve learned to your daily life. This should make it less likely that your symptoms will return.


If you think cCBT might be right for you and would like to refer yourself for this therapy, please
Click here if you live in North Cumbria
Click here if you live in Sunderland

There are other IAPT services across the country which are not run by CNTW. If you live in a different area, you can use the NHS website to find your local IAPT service and seek support.