Computer-Based Training for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT4CBT) is an innovative online program that teaches the empirically validated treatment of cognitive behavioural therapy for individuals struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. Developed by Dr. Kathleen Carroll at the Yale School of Medicine, CBT4CBT has already been rigorously tested in clinical trials in the United States with excellent results. The collaboration between Dr. Carroll and the CHCR has brought CBT4CBT to Prince Edward Island for clinical trials within First Nation, rural, and remote populations.
CBT4CBT is the first online treatment program of its kind in Canada and the CHCR is conducting pilot trials on Prince Edward Island before expanding the program throughout the country. The pilot trials are taking place in First Nation, rural, and remote populations which often suffer from a lack of services and access to innovative new treatment options for addictions. CBT4CBT is an add-on treatment that is intended to be used alongside traditional therapies such as counseling. It is currently being piloted in four populations: Lennox Island and Abegweit First Nations, the Charlottetown Methadone Clinic, and Student Services at the University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College.
CBT4CBT consists of seven modules, each lasting one hour, that include interactive videos showing characters portrayed by professional, multi-cultural actors openly struggling with real-life situations. The user can play a clip and then stop it at will. Narrators appear, addressing the user, who can replay the story and/or change the ending, depending on choices the user makes. In addition to the computer-based modules, homework, including practical exercises, is provided. The modules offer the building blocks of cognitive behavioural therapy which teaches skills such as coping with cravings, refusing offers of alcohol and drugs, thought concepts about drug and alcohol in ways that are useful for managing powerful emotions, acting effectively and assertively, and problem-solving. The program requires no previous experience with computers and is audio driven. There is currently an English and Spanish version, each divided into two streams, one for drug abuse and another for alcohol.
The PEI CBT4CBT trials are funded by the eHealth Innovations Partnership Program. It is the CHCR’s hope that the program will be as well-received in Canada as it has been in the United States and that we will be able to adapt it for specific populations, such as First Nations. Using PEI as a gateway, the CHCR intends to expand the program to other Canadian provinces. It is our hope that CBT4CBT will become a part of the Canadian healthcare system to assist Canadians struggling with addiction.
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