Cognitive Stimulation Therapy

    Dr Aimee Spector leading a CST Session

    Dr Aimee Spector leading a CST Session

    What is Cognitive Stimulation Therapy?

    Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is a non-pharmacological treatment for people who have mild to moderate dementia.
    It was developed by Dr Aimee Spector, a Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer at University College London. The therapy involves 14 sessions of themed activities, usually held over a 7 week period. The sessions aim to actively stimulate and engage people with dementia, providing an optimal learning environment and the social benefits of participating in a group activity.

    Anyone who is working with a person with dementia, in any care setting, can carry out CST sessions.

    CST manuals are available at http:// The manuals include the key principles of CST, a session-by-session plan, details of the equipment needed and ways of monitoring progress.

    Sonas apc delivered the only CST Workshop in Ireland and plans to hold another this year.

    The evidence base

    Research studies on CST have had consistently positive findings. CST participants experienced improved cognitive functioning (including memory and orientation, language and visuospatial abilities) and language skills (including naming, word-finding and comprehension). Participants also said that their quality of life improved. Other benefits included the positive experience of being in the group, and improvements in mood, confidence and concentration.

    In fact, CST is the only non-pharmacological therapy for people with mild to moderate dementia that’s specifically recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

    What happens at a CST session?

    Each CST session follows a general theme, with choices of activities in order to cater to the interests of the group. Members give the group a name. Consistency is created between sessions through using the same warm-up activity, a reality orientation board that contains information about the group, and a ‘theme song’. The session themes are

    • Physical games
    • Sound
    • Childhood
    • Food
    • Current affairs Faces / scenes
    • Word association
    • Being creative
    • Categorising objects
    • Orientation
    • Using money
    • Number games
    • Word games
    • Team quiz

    Additional sessions are:

    • Useful tips
    • Thinking cards
    • Art discussion
    • Visual clips
    • Household treasures

    For more information, go to