Recalling Recent Experiences in Session

jsbeck-photo-blue-jacket.jpg

I do many things at the beginning of therapy sessions, one of which is to ask patients about their experiences since I last saw them. Depressed patients routinely report only negative incidents. I then ask them what positive things happened, or what was going on during the better parts of their week. One reason I do this is to collect data that may be contrary to their globally negative thinking. (“No one likes me.” “It isn’t worth doing anything.” “Everything is terrible.”)


Another reason I do this is to allow the session to be a little more conversational, a little lighter in tone. I also find that having patients recall positive experience lightens their mood and makes it easier for them to take a more realistic (less negative) view of their problems. A recent study confirms the importance of doing so. When people are depressed, their thinking is more rigid and ruminative when stimuli are negative, which translates into greater difficulty in solving problems.  

-Judith S. Beck, Ph.D.

“My Adventures in Psychopharmacology”

There’s a great article in New York Magazine about a young woman whose psychiatrist started her on a roller coaster of medications at the age of 16. She found out about Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) several years later when she read an article her parents had mailed to her. She said that CBT was:

“…a treatment Dr. Titrate [not his real name] had always dismissed. After I read it, I set up an appointment.  Read more

Patients with Hypochondriasis Respond to Cognitive Behavior Therapy

In a recent study, patients with Hypochondriasis were randomly assigned to either Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Paroxetine (i.e. Paxil) or a placebo. All patients completed a self-report measure prior to treatment, and after 16 weeks of treatment or placebo. Read more

Does Cognitive Therapy = Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between Cognitive Therapy (CT) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Why? Well, sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably… and sometimes they’re not.   Read more

How Thinking Can Change the Brain

Sharon Begley’s article about changing your brain appeared in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago -you can read it here, and you can also listen to Sharon Begley discuss the mind’s ability to reshape the brain on NPR.

Begley talks about the fact that thoughts can alter and shape the brain’s structure and circuitry – you can actually change your brain with your own mind.  Read more

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Shows Promise for Children with Mental Illness – JAMA Article

 

The numbers are astonishing:

20% of children in the U.S. have some form of mental illness.

Only 1 in 5 receives treatment. Read more

Interview with Aaron Beck on the History of Cognitive Therapy

 Dr. Beck was originally trained in psychoanalysis in the 1950s. How did he transition from psychoanalysis, the predominant methodology of that time period, to developing Cognitive Therapy?

Here’s an excerpt from a great interview Dr. Beck gave in 2004.

Interviewer: Can you reminisce about your role as a psychoanalyst?

Dr. Beck: Let me respond with a clinical illustration. A woman patient is on the couch and she spends the entire time talking about her sexual escapades.  At the end of the session I do what I think analysts are meant to do – I ask her how she feels.  “Very anxious,” she responds.  Read more

Roleplaying with Aaron Beck

At our Extramural Workshop last week, we had about 40 trainees from around the world participate in a two-day Cognitive Therapy training focused on Anxiety and Panic Disorders (the trainees are mental health professionals enrolled in the Beck Institute’s Cognitive Therapy supervision program – they send tapes/CDs or transcripts of therapy sessions to their Beck Institute supervisor for review and feedback, and also participate in our on-site training workshops).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more

Cognitive Therapy Worldwide: Germany Approves Psychotherapies, CBT included

In the U.S., psychologists and other mental health care providers practice whatever type of therapy they prefer. But in Germany, things are a little different. There’s an emphasis on evidence-based therapy (therapy that has been demonstrated to be effective in clinical trials) – including Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).

Here’s how Germany’s handling mental health care. Read more

What Cognitive Therapy does to your brain…

Cognitive Therapy is well known for being effective for depression (it’s twice as effective as medication in preventing relapse) and it’s also been shown to work for many other disorders — but why? How does it work?

A major clue to how Cognitive Therapy affects the brain came out in this study two years ago — researchers were interested in seeing how Cognitive Behavior Therapy affected the brains of depressed people as compared to medication. They hypothesized that since both CBT and medication were effective for depression, both treatments would affect the same part of the brain. Using brain imaging technology, they scanned participants’ brains before and after the course of treatment.

And they were in for a surprise. Researchers found that antidepressants affected one part of the brain among depressed patients, and CBT treatment affected another part altogether. Antidepressants dampened activity in the limbic system — the emotional center of the brain. Conversely, CBT calmed activity in the cortex — the brain’s seat of reason.

In other words, antidepressants reduced emotions, whereas CBT helped patients process their emotions in a healthier manner.

Which explains why those on antidepressants have a much higher likelihood of relapse if they go off of their meds — negative emotions can flood back in. But with CBT, patients gain the skills to respond to their emotions more effectively — for long-term benefits.