Therapists’ perceptions and acceptability of providing internet-delivered guided self-help Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for family carers of people with dementia (iACT4CARERS): a qualitative study

Milena Contreras, Elien Van Hout, Morag Farquhar, Rebecca Gould, Lance McCracken, Michael Hornberger, Erica Richmond, Naoko Kishita

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Abstract

This study aimed to explore therapists' perceptions and acceptability of providing internet-delivered, therapist-guided, self-help acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for family carers of people with dementia (iACT4CARERS). To achieve this, a qualitative approach with semi-structured interviews was employed with eight novice therapists recruited from primary and secondary care services taking part in a feasibility study of iACT4CARERS. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed using thematic analysis. Four over-arching themes were identified: (1) positive attitudes towards the intervention, (2) therapists' workload, (3) therapists' confidence to perform their role, and (4) connecting with family carers in a virtual context. Theme 1 included seeing their involvement as an opportunity for personal growth and perceiving benefits to the family carers, which contributed to greater acceptability. Theme 2 reflected that while workload and the user-friendliness of the online platform were highly acceptable among the therapists, there were also time-consuming cases that increased therapists' burden. Theme 3 revealed that practical resources provided during the training, continued supervision, and opportunities to learn from other therapists, increased therapist confidence and facilitated greater acceptability. Finally, Theme 4 highlighted that improving the connection between therapists and carers was critical in a virtual context and strategies to improve the therapist-carer relationship were recommended. The implementation of iACT4CARERS was largely acceptable for the therapists involved in the trial. Ways to strengthen the therapeutic relationship in the virtual context and practical strategies to deal with common problems may enhance therapist experience and delivery in a full-scale effectiveness trial. Key learning aims (1) To understand which factors facilitated therapists' positive perceptions and acceptability of providing internet-delivered guided self-help ACT (iACT4CARERS). (2) To understand what challenges acted as barriers to therapists' positive perceptions and acceptability of providing iACT4CARERS. (3) To learn what aspects of the training and the intervention can be refined to improve the acceptability to therapists in trials involving internet-delivered guided self-help interventions for family carers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere38
JournalCognitive Behaviour Therapist
Volume14
Issue number2
Early online date15 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • therapists
  • acceptability
  • online therapy
  • therapeutic relationship
  • informal caregivers
  • psychological interventions

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