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Hamill, M. Mahony, K. (2011). ‘The Long Goodbye’: Cognitive Analytic Therapy with Carers of People with Dementia. Brit. J. Psychother., 27(3):292-304.

(2011). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 27(3):292-304

‘The Long Goodbye’: Cognitive Analytic Therapy with Carers of People with Dementia

Michelle Hamill, B.A, Hons Psych, MSc, Psych, D Clin Psych, D Clin Dip and Kate Mahony, B.A, BSc Hons, D Psy (Clin. Neuro)

This paper discusses the use of Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) with carers of people with dementia and raises the wider issue of service delivery and provision of psychological therapy services to carers. Carers experience loss and emotional pain (McCurry, 2008; Miesen, 2006a; Woods et al., 2003) while providing full-time care to the person with dementia who has complex and changing needs. This frequently results in major depression and anxiety, increasing the possibility of referral to mental health services. Treating carers' distress is vital not only for their mental health but to enable them to continue in their caring role, without which the current care system would collapse. This need is being addressed in Newham by the tertiary psychology service, Psychotherapy for Older Adults (PTOA), set up in 2006-07 to accept referrals of people over 65 with mental health problems. This paper outlines how the PTOA is well placed to identify and treat carers. We propose that CAT is an effective and flexible therapy in this setting, and illustrate this with a case study. Further research and models for psychotherapeutic service delivery for carers are required.

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