11:19am Wednesday 20 September 2017

Study on how to improve wellbeing in later years

Doctoral researcher James Martyn

To counter the impact of difficult life changes, Massey University psychology student James Martyn is investigating the effectiveness of a psychological programme to help older people experiencing low mood and anxiety.

He is currently seeking people aged between 60 and 75 years in Auckland to take part in a research programme that provides low intensity, guided self-help based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a well-known and widely-used talking therapy.

He says the therapy is effective in helping people improve their sense of emotional wellbeing. “It teaches how your thoughts affect your behaviours, and how some simple techniques can help you gain control over these issues.”

Low intensity CBT is a bit different to the traditional version, says Mr Martyn, who is based at the School of Psychology in Albany. While it uses many of the principles and techniques of traditional CBT, it provides content through accessible self-help materials. Literature suggests that additional support from a low-intensity therapist to guide older adults through the materials is likely to lead to greater improvements in participants’ emotional wellbeing, he says.

For his research project, Mr Martyn plans to assess the effectiveness of the guided self-help CBT programme – called Living Life to the Full – that has been used successfully across England, Scotland and Canada. One of its other aims is to determine whether the programme could be made available more widely in New Zealand.

Participants will be required to attend weekly group meetings at the School of Psychology in Albany Village over eight weeks. Simply participating in the study could be beneficial, as participants tend to feel less alone through being part of a group, he says.

“One of the main benefits is that the programme can help you gain greater self-awareness with issues that lead to anxiety and depression, and how to deal with them more effectively.”

While some older people can be sceptical about, or resistant to, the idea of therapy, he hopes anyone who feels vulnerable to low mood will come forward and try the programme. It will equip them to deal with a variety of different life challenges, and cultivate a sense of wellbeing beyond the classes, he says.

With the ageing population expected to grow significantly in the next decade and beyond as the baby boomer generation retires, the need for tools to build resilience in later life is essential, he adds.

People interested in taking part will need to fill out a screening questionnaire and consent form to provide the researcher with general demographic and contact information.

For more information, or to take part in the study, contact James Martyn on 0800 526 371 or email: wellbeinginlateryears@gmail.com.


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