by Imogen Kilcoyne, CR Therapist and Research Assistant at King’s College London
What is CIRCuiTS™?
If you asked me a year ago what CIRCuiTS™ is, I would have said it was a ruthless fitness workout. Now, I am delivering this digital therapy multiple times a week and marvelling at its benefits.
CIRCuiTS™ is much more than just software. It is an effective and unique therapeutic intervention that improves thinking skills for those with marked mental health difficulties. Functional change is achieved by working towards client goals, which range from popping to the shops to applying for a new job.
The software revolves around a virtual village that supports a client’s journey through engaging tasks that tap both abstract and ‘real-life’ thinking skills, such as learning faces, deciphering a coded message, and planning a journey. Therapy effectiveness relies on the completion of tasks as well as the therapeutic bond established between the therapist and client. The key is supporting an individual to develop their own understanding of their cognitive strengths and areas of need and how best to address these with tailored strategies.
What is the training like?
The 11-module training takes you from the introduction of CIRCuiTS™ all the way through to the end of a client’s therapy. It delivers a comprehensive course that is accessible to any clinician with experience of mental health treatment but without the need for an understanding of Cognitive Remediation Therapy (CRT). The sessions cover the theory and evidence base for the importance of cognitive difficulties and metacognition, as well as how best to promote strategy use in your clients. The CIRCuiTS™ training helped me develop from someone with rudimentary knowledge of CR to a competent practitioner.
Training in CIRCuiTS™ taught me more about myself than I anticipated. I found that the most educational and humbling part was practising CIRCuiTS™ tasks myself. Admittedly, I went in expecting them to be easy, but I quickly realised that I was rushing through in a bid to be fast, which led to inaccuracies and mistakes. Once I started to experiment using the strategies recommended by CIRCuiTS™, I was able to slow down and navigate tasks more successfully. This part of the training has profoundly affected how I collaboratively formulate my clients’ abilities and approach their journeys since.
Putting training into practice
Practising a newly learned therapy for the first time can be both daunting and exciting. Working under CIRCuiTS™ veteran Dr Cella has taught me the importance of joint decision-making when delivering therapy to clients with complex presentations, the importance of close supervision, and how to lean on the support CIRCuiTS™ provides.
Features such as the ‘Library’ help you and the client keep track of progress. For example, the ‘Scores’ tab displays how well the client performs in each task. This can be used to highlight to a client that they are getting better at a task with the support of their strategy use. For further transfer, the daily life tab can help clients identify their most useful strategies and ways in which they can be used in everyday life. These features have bolstered my confidence as a new CIRCuiTS™ therapist and helped facilitate effective therapy.