What is behavioural activation?

Behavioural activation is an evidence-based treatment for depression.

It is based on the idea that one way to combat low mood is to increase your activity level, especially in:

  • pleasurable activity
  • tackling lists of tasks and responsibilities in a realistic and achievable way.

Behavioural activation can be used as a stand-alone treatment, or in conjunction with other treatments such as medication.

It has been shown to be as effective for some groups as more complex psychological therapy


Who is it for?

Behavioural activation is for people with low mood who want to change how they are feeling.

When people feel depressed they often experience a loss of motivation that stops them from engaging in activities that may lift their mood.

Behavioural activation helps people to build motivation through increasing their activity level, in a step-wise way.


What does it involve?

It usually involves you meeting with a clinician on a weekly basis for one hour sessions, for between six and 12 weeks. The number of sessions offered will depend on the nature of your difficulties, and this will be agreed at the beginning of the treatment with your clinician.

It would be expected that you attend each session with a willingness to take part in the process.


What happens after the sessions?

As part of your sessions, your clinician will help you to develop a staying well plan which will help you to maintain the gains you have made in the treatment.


Where can I find more information or support?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) website publishes guidance on the most effective treatments for depression, of which behavioural activation is one: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg90


Contact the clinician working with you.









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