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CBT at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services

CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) has been available at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services for over thirty years. The CBT service has developed and grown over that time. Currently there are eighteen CBT Therapists who are exclusively working within CBT.

All are experienced mental health practitioners with varying professional backgrounds: Nursing, Psychology, Occupational Therapy, Social Work. All have trained to at least a CBT Diploma level, many to MSc level. There are varying levels of experience from a small number of newly qualified CBT Therapists to a larger number of very experienced, advanced CBT practitioners. All are accredited by a CBT association/body or are working towards this accreditation. All CBT Therapists are involved in ongoing updating and training and will have an area of specific interest or expertise. All CBT Therapists are allocated to a multi-disciplinary team within the service.

All CBT Therapists within the service have regular CBT supervision as set out by CBT associations/bodies. This shows SPMHS as a provider of a CBT clinical service of high quality.  CBT Therapy is available at SPMHS for inpatients, and outpatients (referral process below). The CBT service has approximately 400 referrals for individual CBT per year. St Patricks Mental Health Service and Trinity College, Dublin jointly run CBT courses (CBT Foundation, Diploma and MSc) on-site at St Patricks University Hospital which strengthens our role as a training centre of high quality and indeed as a Psychotherapy training centre.

In 2006 ‘A Vision for Change’ recommended specialised mental health care including specific psychotherapies. However, this development has not happened in line with the Mental health needs of people in Ireland. In the UK in 2007, IAPT (Improving access to Psychological Therapies) recommended training large numbers within CBT Therapy to meet need and stated CBT as a psychological treatment of choice for Depression and Anxiety Disorders. We have a long way to go in Ireland, in developing to the levels in the UK, however our CBT service here at SPMHS has that vision and is a provider of high quality CBT Therapy.

So what is CBT and who is it suitable for?

CBT is a psychological approach which research has found to be effective for a wide range of mental health issues. CBT aims to help people understand the relationship between emotions, thoughts and behaviours which occurs when mental health issues are present. This means understanding what are the maintaining factors ( eg thoughts, behaviours and beliefs) for mental health issues and then helping someone making changes to improve mental health issues. CBT is a brief and focussed treatment (usually 8-15 sessions on a weekly/forthnightly basis). It is structured, goal-focussed, active and collaborative. Although it focuses on ‘the here and now’, in case formulation, there is a focus on experiences from the past and development of beliefs which may be keeping problems going currently.

There is a large evidence base within:

  • Depression: mild-moderate and some presentations of severe depression
  • Anxiety Disorders: Phobias (specific phobia, agoraphobia, social phobia, blood/injury phobia) Panic disorder, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), GAD (Generalised Anxiety disorder), BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder), Health Anxiety, PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder), Habit disorders, Sexual dysfunction.
  • Eating Disorders
  • Low Self Esteem
  • Sleep problems
  • Medically unexplained symptoms

Colette Kearns

Head of CBT