NHS Lothian

Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

4 min read

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy? 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a psychological therapy based on the relationships between what we think, what we do and how we feel. CBT teaches you how to recognise and tackle problems in the here and now, rather than in the past.  

CBT helps you pinpoint unhelpful ways of thinking that can affect how you feel. It also helps you figure out the most effective things you can do to feel better. It has been widely studied and is especially helpful for people affected by depression and anxiety.  


What is Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy? 

When you access CBT through an online therapy programme, it’s called computerised CBT. Computerised CBT is aimed at people with mild to moderate mental health difficulties and is a highly effective treatment.  

Computerised CBT programmes are user-friendly, interactive and usually last between 6-8 sessions. Computerised CBT is suitable for people aged 18 and above, but some programmes can be accessed by people aged 16 and above. There is no upper age limit.  

There are several programmes to choose from, including: 

  • Beating the Blues: an online CBT programme that helps people who are feeling stressed, depressed anxious or generally low. 
  • Silvercloud: an online CBT programme incorporating mindfulness and positive psychology. It is aimed at people affected by anxiety, depression and mental health issues related to long-term health conditions. There are also additional modules on topics such as sleep, stress, resilience, COVID-19, and a module for young people experiencing anxiety.   

 The online programmes are flexible, which means you don’t have to stick to rigid appointments. The programmes allow you to work at your own pace, at a time and in a place that suits you. Anyone can use these programmes, as no computer experience is necessary, but you’ll need a tablet, laptop or PC with an internet connection and speakers or earphones. 


How can I access computerised CBT? 

Speak with your GP. Your GP will ask you for your email address or telephone number, and your consent for the Beating the Blues and SilverCloud teams to contact you. You will then be sent a code to allow you access to the programme. If you don’t have an email address, you will be contacted by telephone.  


How can I access computerised CBT? 

With Beating the Blues and SilverCloud, a co-ordinator will contact you by phone once you have been referred into the programme and have been provided access to the programmeThe co-ordinator is there to encourage you to participate, and help with any technical problems you have throughout using the programme.   


How will Computerised CBT help me? 

 It  will  teach you  techniques  aimed at changing  the  unhelpful  patterns of  thinking and  behaviour  that are maintaining your current difficulties. This will help reduce your symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is based on research evidence and is a recommended by the NICE Guidelines (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) and by SIGN (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network). 


Beating the BluesWhat is it and how do I access it? 

Beating the Blues consists of 8 online sessions, each lasting around 1 hour, completed weekly. The programme is interactive, so during sessions you can watch video clips, complete exercises and learn CBT techniques that will help with anxiety and depression. Each week you’ll be given tasks to complete before your next session.  

It’s very important that you complete as many sessions as you can. To begin with, it may be hard to see how the programme is relevant to your situation. However, it’s designed to build up your knowledge and skills over the weeks and you’ll get most benefit by completing the full programme. If you don’t manage to complete it though, there’s evidence that even finishing  5 sessions is likely to have a positive impact on your mood.  

To enable you to access Beating the Blues, your GP will contact your local cCBT Team to ask them to provide you with this information. Around a week later you’ll receive further information. The computerised CBT team will help you get set up and support you to use the programmes. Support for continued access to the programme and help with any technical issues is provided throughout. 

You can access Beating the Blues with any computer, tablet or smart phone with internet access.  

For more detailed information on Beating the Blues, please see the patient information leaflet that can be found here.


Silvercloud: What is it and how do I access it? 

SilverCloud consists of a series of topics chosen to address your specific needs. The course features videos, activities, quizzes, audio guides and your own online journal. To get the most out of SilverCloud, it’s recommended that you spend around 40 minutes a week, over 6 to 8 weeks, at a regular time if possible. This could be done all at once or broken down into 10 to 15-minute chunks, 3 or 4 times a week when you have time to yourself (for example during lunch breaks, on the bus, in the evening, or when the kids are in bed).  As with most things, it will take time and practice to make progress. 

To access the programme, you’ll need to be referred by your GP or other healthcare worker. You’ll then receive an email from the cCBT Coordinator containing a link to activate your account. 

You can access SilverCloud from any computer, tablet or smart phone with internet access.  

For more detailed information on SilverCloud, please see the patient information leaflet that can be found here.


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