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Cognitive stimulation therapy: A New Zealand pilot

Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) is a structured group therapy treatment for people with mild to moderate dementia. The therapy consists of 14 sessions with a range of activities and discussions aimed at general enhancement of cognitive and social functioning. The sessions actively engage people with dementia, while providing an optimal learning environment, and the social benefits of being part of a group.

The overall aim of this project was to pilot CST groups in both community and residential care settings to assess its acceptability in the New Zealand context.

Key findings of the pilot study:

  • CST is an acceptable psychological therapy for older people with a clinical diagnosis of mild to moderate dementia.
  • It is able to be delivered relatively easily in both community and residential care settings.
  • Benefits of CST include a positive effect on mood, improved memory, and improved quality of life.


Te Pou has a wide range of evidence-based resources and tools to help the mental health, addiction and disability workforces.

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Our work

Te Pou works alongside mental health and addiction services, and disability organisations to understand their priorities and workforce challenges.

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