Dr. Aaron Beck Receives Changing Minds Award

Congratulations to Dr. Aaron Beck who received the Changing Minds Award at the Minding Your Mind Annual Blue Gene Gala, in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania on October 19, 2014. Dr. Beck received this award for his lifetime achievement in psychiatry. During his acceptance speech, Dr. Beck discussed the influence of catastrophizing across all of the psychological disorders. He described how catastrophizing was adaptive in the wild, and that individuals with the “catastrophizing gene” were at the top of the evolutionary ladder. His message was to de-stigmatize mental illness and to show the positive aspects of some symptoms in an evolutionary sense.

Dr. Judith Beck, a featured speaker for this event, provided the Keynote address. Dr. Beck talked about ways to reduce stigma, first, by providing a rationale for labeling both mental illness and physical illness as just “illness. ” Second, she discussed how people with mental illness need help to de-stigmatize themselves by evaluating their self-critical thoughts, especially those that interfere with seeking treatment. Dr. Beck also talked about Cognitive Behavior Therapy and noted the overwhelming amount of research that demonstrates its effectiveness for a large number of problems. Dr. Beck described what a typical therapy session is like and how it leads to improvement. She concluded with why we should all have hope for people with mental illness—because good therapy can help them get better and stay better. Dr. Judith Beck was also presented with a plaque in recognition of her advances in the field.

Internet-based, CBT Stress Management Workbook for Breast Cancer Patients

Cognitive behavioral stress management groups have been shown to be decrease psychological symptoms and increase adaptive coping in breast cancer patients, but dissemination of this effective intervention has been challenging. The goal of the present project was to develop an online cognitive behavioral stress management intervention for early stage breast cancer survivors and evaluate its effectiveness using a 2 group × 3 time randomized, waitlist-controlled design. Intervention and waitlist control group participants were assessed at three time points: at baseline; at 10 weeks, after which only intervention participants had used the workbook; and at 20 weeks, after which both groups had used the workbook. Results indicate that at 10 weeks intervention participants showed improved self-efficacy for coping with their cancer and for regulating negative mood and lower levels of cancer-related post-traumatic symptoms as compared to the control group, suggesting that an internet stress management intervention could be effective for helping breast cancer patients increase their confidence in their ability to cope with stress.

Carpenter, K. M., Stoner, S. A., Schmitz, K., McGregor, B. A., & Doorenbos, A. Z. (2014). An online stress management workbook for breast cancer. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 37, 3, 458-468.

Internet-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy is Effective for Severe Health Anxiety

OBJECTIVE: A sudden gain is defined as a large and stable individual improvement occurring between two consecutive treatment sessions. Sudden gains have been shown to predict better long-term improvement in several treatment studies, including cognitive behavioural therapy for depression and anxiety disorders, but have not been studied in the treatment of health anxiety or any form of internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of sudden gains in internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy for severe health anxiety.

METHOD: We examined the occurrence and significance of sudden gains in measures of health anxiety in 81 participants receiving internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy. We compared patients with sudden gains, patients without sudden gains, and patients with gradual gains.

RESULTS: Thirteen participants (16%) experienced one sudden gain in health anxiety with individual sudden gains distributed across the treatment. As expected, patients with a sudden gain showed larger improvements than patients without a sudden gain at post-treatment (d = 1.04) and at one-year follow-up (d = 0.91) on measures of health anxiety.

CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with previous studies, sudden gains in internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy are associated with significantly larger and stable treatment effects up to one-year follow-up.

Hedman, E., Lekander, M., Ljotsson, B., Lindefors, N., Ru?ck, C., Hofmann, S. G., Andersson, E., … Schulz, S. M. (January 01, 2014). Sudden gains in internet-based cognitive behaviour therapy for severe health anxiety. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 54, 22-9.