What is Cognitive Stimulation Therapy and What Are The Benefits?

Written by Active Minds on Friday the 14th of December 2018.


Whilst there is no cure for dementia, there are a number of treatments, including drugs and therapies, that can help slow the progression of the disease as well as help lessen the symptoms. One such treatment is Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) which aims to help delay the progression of dementia.

What Is Cognitive Stimulation Therapy?

CST is a therapy program designed for people with dementia. The program is carried out in groups of five to eight people, over 14 sessions of around 45 minutes each. Each session follows a similar pattern, which includes structured discussions and group activities, but the theme/topic of the session changes every time. The topics are varied but may include food, childhood or physical games. Activities are themed around these topics and offer a multisensory experience for the participants, including; puzzles, games, musical instruments and songs.

When the specified 14 sessions has been completed, many patients are then offered a ‘Maintenance CST’ program, which includes a further 26 sessions. This is to help maintain the positive benefits that CST has provided.

What Are the Benefits of CST?

CST focuses not just on the memory section of the brain, but on all cognitive areas. This means that CST encourages higher levels of mental activity and stimulation which leads to significant improvement in people’s cognitive functioning, such as memory and orientation. Research has also shown that CST can help with language and visuospatial abilities, such as comprehension and word-finding.

In the treatment of dementia, these benefits have helped CST to be recognised as equally effective when compared to drugs. In fact, it is the only non-drug treatment recommended by NICE.

Other positives noted during research in to CST, focused on the improved quality of life experienced by participants. People feel supported in this non-threatening and nurturing environment, which in turn, helps to increase their self-esteem and confidence. Dementia can be an incredibly isolating disease so the group element of the therapy means that people are encouraged to socialise and interact with others, helping to lift their mood.