Psychological Therapies

Psychological therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), counselling or psychotherapy give people a chance to speak in confidence to a qualified professional about problems or issues that might be bothering them. Psychological therapies might help someone to come to terms with a diagnosis and identify ways to live well with dementia and may also help with symptoms of depression, anxiety or stressed and distressed behaviour   in people with dementia and their family members.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behaviour therapy is a term used to describe a number of talking therapies which are used to overcome emotional and psychological problems. Cognitive behavioural therapy is commonly used to treat stress, anxiety and depression. The word ‘cognitive’ refers to thinking, reasoning and memory. Cognitive behaviour therapy is also known as CBT. There are alternatives to cognitive behaviour therapy. Other similar therapies include behavioural activation, acceptance and commitment therapy, cognitive analytic therapy, and mindfulness-based cognitive behaviour therapy.

You may want to try a talking therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy if you are feeling particularly stressed, worried, anxious, low in mood or depressed. Cognitive behaviour therapy aims to give you new skills to overcome current life challenges. It aims to change ways of thinking that might be unhelpful. This may make it easier to deal with demanding situations or difficult emotions. Cognitive behaviour therapy involves meeting regularly with a trained therapist who will help you to learn new skills and techniques which may make you feel better and improve your life. You will talk about your thoughts and feelings with your therapist and they will guide you through different ways of overcoming your problems. The number of therapy sessions you are offered will depend on your needs, for example, how you are experiencing your difficulties. The number of sessions you have will be cooperatively decided by you and your therapist. Cognitive behaviour therapy aims to give you a better understanding of your ways of thinking, your emotions and your ways of coping with life situations. Through this understanding you may:

  • Learn new skills to cope with stress, anxiety and depression, and other related experiences
  • Feel better, less stressed, less anxious, happier
  • Be able to carry on with your life and feel more active

A therapist trained in cognitive behaviour therapy can provide you with cognitive behaviour therapy. A referral for cognitive behaviour therapy can be made by your GP or through your Community Mental Health Service service (Woodlands Centre or Glenkirk Centre) if you are feeling stressed, anxious, worried or depressed.

Counselling and Psychotherapy

Counselling and psychotherapy are two forms of ‘talking therapy’ which you would have if you wanted support with personal issues, such as if you were stressed, worried, anxious or depressed. They involve meeting with and sharing your problems with your therapist on an individual basis in a confidential setting. There are different types of counselling and psychotherapy to choose from. The therapist aims to help you understand your particular problems so that you can work to overcome or manage these differently.

Counsellors and psychotherapists listen to problems in a non-judgemental and supportive way.  They support people to talk about their difficulties and identify solutions.   Counsellors and psychotherapists are there to listen to you and discuss problems and feelings with empathy. The purpose of these sessions is not usually to give advice, but to provide a safe space to talk and to help you to find insight and understanding into any problems you may be experiencing. Depending on your specific needs, one or many sessions may be carried out. How long each client is seen for tends to be a joint decision between client and therapist. Therapy sessions are carried out by specifically trained counsellors and psychotherapists.

Ask your GP for a referral.  There is currently free dementia counselling available through the East Dunbartonshire Dementia Network. The service provided by a trained Counsellor is available to people who have a diagnosis of dementia and their carers.

This information has been extracted and adapted from A Guide to Psychosocial Interventions in Early Stages of Dementia

Some talking therapies are available through the NHS while private therapists will charge.   When choosing a private therapist it’s important to ask about what they can offer that will help, their approach, confidentiality and fees, and whether they are accredited by a professional organisation.

A diagnosis of dementia can be overwhelming for the person, their family and carers; some people feel it is useful to talk to others about what they are experiencing. In East Dunbartonshire there are a range of dementia cafes, carers groups and activities available, so contact East Dunbartonshire Dementia Network for more information.