Partnership makes UCLan first UK university to teach digital therapy
The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and SilverCloud Health have partnered to deliver training in the use of digital therapy for the next generation of psychological wellbeing practitioners (PWP), making it the first UK university to do so.
UCLan has run the sessions for one cohort and is now planning to embed them as part of its regular training for PWPs and eventually expand the approach to cover other therapy courses. The additional training focuses on delivering guided self-help based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) models through digital methods.
While digital therapy is not necessarily new, there has been little focus in the curriculum on its use and delivery and most PWPs have been forced to learn about the therapies in an ad-hoc manner while on the job.
The move reflects a trend towards internet-based therapy treatment, in part in response to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme for the treatment of anxieties and depression in adults. IAPT is part of the National Health Service’s (NHS) long-term plan which aims to provide therapeutic services to an additional 380,000 people per year by 2024.
“Internet-based treatment is now the mainstay of mental health service delivery models and it is important to recognise this important contribution to a PWPs toolkit of techniques,” said UCLan Senior Lecturer in Psychological Interventions and Course Lead for PWP training, Liz Kell.
“Working alongside the developers of these approaches is key to creating a competent workforce for the future.”
A member of the UCLan teaching team and representatives from SilverCloud Health developed the programme using the company’s software platform.
The company has the world’s largest comprehensive library of customisable evidenced-based online programmes for persons with mental health and comorbid medical conditions such as diabetes, CHD and chronic pain, according to its website. It is the leading digital therapy service in IAPT covering over 70 percent of NHS services and having provided therapy to more than 250,000 people.
By delivering therapies digitally, practitioners are able to increase their reach and lower costs. The company claims its platform produces a 21 percent increase in the number of patients, and increases return of investment by 53 to 85 percent.
“This is an important development for the skilling up of the next generation of PWPs,” said SilverCloud’s Dr Lloyd Humphreys.
“When one considers that the cohorts of people coming through training now could be delivering low-intensity therapy in the year 2040 and beyond, it is essential we provide them the right competencies in the use of digital tools.”