Centre for Treatment of Anxiety and Depression services

Centre for Treatment of Anxiety and Depression (CTAD) specialises in providing a range of individual cognitive-behaviour therapy interventions as well as group mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for relapse prevention.

Individual cognitive behaviour therapy

Cognitive behaviour therapy here includes all time-limited, scientifically-proven psychological therapies that focus on teaching skills to correct the effects that thinking patterns have on emotions and behaviour.

There are specific cognitive therapy programs that work best with different kinds of problems, such as:

  • cognitive 
  • exposure-response prevention
  • behavioural activation
  • cognitive processing
  • metacognitive
  • acceptance and commitment
  • schema
  • cognitive analytic.

A therapist would explain these to a consumer and discuss why one or the other was recommended for their specific problem.

Treatment sessions usually last about 50 minutes, although in some programs where prolonged exposure is involved, sessions may last as long as 2 hours. Frequency of sessions varies depending on need and availability: often this is weekly but may be as often as 3-5 times/week for intensive treatment. Assessment sessions are typically 90 minutes and 1-3 sessions may be needed depending on how much relevant information there is to collect. We try to speed this up by asking  consumers to complete pre-treatment questionnaires.

Treatment is active, collaborative and interactive. Most forms of cognitive therapy focus more on the present than the past. However, if it becomes clear that present-focused therapy is not helping to meet a consumer’s goals, a clinician may suggest they try a form of therapy that incorporates an equal focus on past and present.

The most effective treatments for anxiety and depressive disorders require more than talking about what’s happened in the last week. Therapy will be very strategic, teaching skills and having consumers take part in exercises to discover new perspectives and experiences. We will not rely on giving advice. We will work with consumers to come up with useful exercises. Consumers will be asked to complete tasks between sessions to develop their skills and sense of independence.

A consumer will be asked to complete questionnaires regularly so that (a) we know where to focus treatment and (b) we have a record of progress so that if it is hard at times to tell whether a consumer is improving or not, we have something more reliable than our memory to help decide.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is an approach designed to prevent relapses of recurrent Major Depressive Disorder. In our clinic, we have adapted the model to include similar strategies for Generalised Anxiety Disorder which has not fully responded to CBT or medication as this condition is also maintained by ruminative thought processes.

This treatment is taught in a series of 2.5 hour classes over 8 weeks with around 12-14 participants. There is an important focus on the daily 40 minute meditation home practice using guided recordings. 

MBCT teaches people how to live more in the present moment with full attention, friendly interest and in a non-judgemental accepting way. This helps people with recurrent depression observe their thoughts and feelings and disengage gently but deliberately from them. It also helps reduce harsh self-criticism, cultivating self- compassion as an alternative.

In this way, difficulties experienced are seen more clearly and can be worked with skilfully. Cognitive therapy strategies are woven in as part of this planned skilful approach to deal with the emergence of any negative mind states, overwhelming worry and depressive symptoms to prevent full-blown relapses.

Once a referral is received, we organise a pre-course intake with one of our MBCT teachers to ensure this is the right treatment at the right time. After the course is complete, there is another individual post-course follow up interview, with the ongoing option of attending quarterly booster MBCT classes and refresher courses as needed.

Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT)

Many of the clients referred to CTAD have a developmental trauma history, often presenting with low mood driven by harsh self-criticism, shame-related social anxiety, and unhelpful self-soothing strategies.

Compassion Focused Therapy is a new 6 week group approach that provides a safe and inclusive setting which involves

  • education about the negative effects of self-criticism on feelings and functioning
  • strategies for increasing self-compassionate attitudes and behaviours
  • overcoming unhelpful assumptions about self-compassion and accepting compassion from others
  • encouraging healthy ways to assist the flow of compassion to others

Research shows that self-compassion is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety where it is driven by shame and self-criticism. It is based in evolutionary psychology and explains the emotional regulation systems that drive our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

In the course you will learn skills and practices to cultivate a more compassionate response toward ourselves and others. These learnings and skills can alleviate the distress from suffering both now, and in the future to prevent relapse.


Telephone: (08) 8222 8100

Facsimile: (08) 8222 8101