An Introduction to Cognitive Stimulation Therapy

CST, or 'Cognitive Stimulation Therapy', is a brief treatment for people with mild to moderate dementia. 'Dementia' is an umbrella term, the two main types being Alzheimer's and Vascular dementia. CST was designed following extensive evaluation of research evidence, hence is an evidence-based treatment (1). UK Government NICE guidance (10) on the management of dementia recommend the use of group Cognitive Stimulation for people with mild to moderate dementia, irrespective of drug treatments received.


Group CST treatment involves 14 or more sessions of themed activities, which typically run twice weekly. Longer-term, or 'maintenance CST', is outlined in a published treatment manual (12). Sessions aim to actively stimulate and engage people with dementia, whilst providing an optimal learning environment and the social benefits of a group. The effects of CST appear to be of a comparable size to those reported with the currently available anti-dementia drugs.

CST sessionCST treatment can be administered by anyone working with people with dementia, such as care workers, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists or nurses. CST groups can take place in settings including residential homes, hospitals or day centres. Practitioners can learn to provide CST treatment for people with dementia by following the CST manual or attending CST training.

More recently, a one-to-one individualised version of CST, known as iCST, has been developed. Sessions follow similar themes and principles to group CST, and can be offered by family carers of health professionals.