Experiencing CBT

Project members: Dr Rachel Starr, Prof Jonathan Smith, Dr Sarah Marks

How have clients and patients experience psychotherapeutic treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, past and present? What research methods can we use to understand the lived experience of talking therapies in mental health?

This project brings together two well-established methodologies in qualitative research, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and Oral History. IPA, emerging from Health Psychology, has pioneered the understanding of how individuals experience a range of health conditions and treatment, focusing particularly on recent times. Oral History, by its nature, deals with experiences from the past, and the meaning that these have for them in the present. While there has been emerging work in Oral History to understand mental health experiences, there has been little dialogue between historians and qualitative health researchers. In turn, IPA researchers have, until now, not reflected a great deal on the potential of their approach for understanding experiences in the past.

This is a collaboration between two IPA researchers, Dr Rachel Starr and Professor Jonathan Smith, with historian Dr Sarah Marks, to understand the theoretical and practical implications of hybridising IPA and Oral History. The project focuses on the experiences of CBT as a treatment for depression, using interviews to explore how people have understood and made sense of their treatment in their own terms. This, in turn, has implications for understanding how understandings of depression may have changed in context over time, while also providing much-needed qualitative evidence on CBT from the patient/client perspective.

If you are interested in taking part in the research as a participant, please find more information here.