Tag: mental health

What is CBT?

By Michael Arndt, Alumni Coordinator, CAST Centers
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CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) was first put into practice by Aaron T. Beck in the 1960’s and has in the ensuing years become an industry standard for evidenced-based care in mental health and addiction treatment. It traces its philosophical roots to a marriage of Greek Stoicism and Eastern mindfulness practices. Stoicism teaches us to essentially challenge our negative, maladaptive or unrealistic thoughts and perceptions of the world around us as a way of living. It is about finding objective truths.  Mindfulness practices teach us to be able to examine our own thoughts and to take them with a grain of salt. The idea behind CBT is that when you are able to reframe these problematic thoughts, you can then move into changing behavior that is not serving you.

CAST Centers recently hosted an in-service for our staff with Dr. Joel Becker, Ph.D who studied with Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1970’s in Boston after completing his training at Harvard. He now heads the Cognitive Behavior Associates practice here in Beverly Hills. He has been a leader in CBT since just after its inception. He now spends time working with SGM (sexual and gender minority) clients, in addition to teaching at UCLA in the Department of Psychology and the Geffen School of Medicine, precepting and seeing clients at Cognitive Behavior Associates.

CBT was originally developed with the hope of treating major depression. Over the years it has evolved to include many variations that treat everything from substance use disorders to OCD and anxiety. Offshoots of CBT include the very popular DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) which is primarily used in the treatment of personality disorders like borderline personality disorder. There is also mindfulness CBT, compassion-based CBT among many others, all sharing the same goal but aim to achieve it with slightly different approaches.

Mindfulness is seen across the board in all of the various offshoots of CBT. Mindfulness training teaches us to sort of detach ourselves from our thoughts (or cognitions, hence the word cognitive in CBT) instead of immediately reacting to them or even accepting them as necessarily true. In the recovery world, this is called “the pause.” It is a practice that lessens our reactivity to our thoughts and beliefs. For example, just because I have a negative thought towards my partner does not mean that it is true, or that I am a jerk for thinking it. It is just a thought, and I do not need to act on it. I can pause and ask myself if this thought is true, helpful, or in alignment with how I truly feel when I am coming from a more authentic and relaxed place. Or just because I think of using drugs, or engaging in self-harm does not mean I have to do it.

At its core, CBT is about examining root causes of negative thoughts and then building up towards taking contrary actions and setting goals as a team with the therapist. Over time, and with enough practice, we literally rewire our brains to act more in alignment with what we really want, and to make it second nature to do so. CBT is not the traditional open-ended talk therapy model that most of us think of when we think of therapy. Sitting in a room rehashing our childhoods over and over again with vague insights. It is about action, and implementing new tools into our daily lives. One of the things that sets CAST apart from most treatment centers is that we are very action-oriented. While we believe it is important to address underlying issues, we encourage and support our clients as they decide what kind of life they want for themselves. That is what our programs are all about: helping our clients dig deep and figure out exactly what they want out of life at their core so that they can begin building a life that is theirs and worth fighting for.

CAST Centers recently hosted an in-service for our staff with CBT pioneer, Dr. Joel Becker, Ph.D.

Life as it is

by Camila B., CAST Centers Alumni

“Life as it is” — the celebrated phrase of Nelson Rodrigues leads us to a constant reflection of the world, of society and of ourselves. This constant search for self-knowledge and life purpose made me think about how we perceive the world and how we find ourselves in it.

We see life through lenses that, throughout our trajectory, have been shaped by our experiences. There are values, addictions, forces and points of development that form our perception. Through these lenses, I used to see a gray world. I’ve always had what I needed, both materially and emotionally. However, I lacked understanding in mental health and life has decided to teach me and wake me up in a brutal way to that matter.

During that process, I have learned that sharing experiences makes the journey smoother. In this way, I began to share through lectures with university and high school students about “Wellbeing and Mental Health“, my experience and knowledge that I had acquired from an experience with a disease as silent as depression.

I was invited to participate as a guest speaker to the “Valorização da vida” (Valuing Life) project here in Brazil, which seeks to open a dialogue with students about interpersonal relationships, values, bullying and mental health. Several role-playing activities and group discussions are proposed to the students, so as to develop in them a critical sense of humanistic education. The project has also been offered to elementary school students (final years) and has been a success. Our students have been empowered to help others and to understand that accepting help is fundamental to our evolution.

A Delicate Balance

Director of Admissions, Robert Lien, MHA was interviewed about his role in the client journey towards recovery. Read an short excerpt below:

“Healthcare administration, in my experience, has been a delicate balance of patient safety and staff safety. The screening process allows us to gather information regarding the patient’s current medical and mental health status. This helps us evaluate a level of care recommendation that will determine the cost for services.”

Read the entire article on the Rasmussen College blog.

Biggest Mainstream Mental Health Movement of 2018


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What is Deipnophobia?

Earlier this month, our very own Dr. Cecelia Mylett was quoted in Women’s Health Magazine on the topic of deipnophobia.  It is not a word or a phobia we hear too often, even in a professional clinical setting.  However, just because we do not hear about, does not mean the phenomena does not exist.  What is deipnophobia?  What is its association with other phobias?

Defining the Undefined

The DSM-5 provides clinicians the criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. Mental disorders have a range running from substance use disorder to depression, from anxiety to PTSD. However, the DSM-5 does not describe deipnophobia specifically.  

What people are describing in the term deipnophobia is the fear of dining or dinner conversations.  So, if it is not explicitly defined in the DSM-5, how does one diagnose or describe deipnophobia?  

Using the DSM-5, deipnophobia would be classified broadly under Anxiety Disorders.  More specifically, the differential diagnosis may either be Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) or Specific Phobia.  If the situation is feared because of negative evaluation by others, it would be considered a Social Anxiety Disorder.  Otherwise, deipnophobia would be a related to a Specific Phobia.

Symptoms and Manifestations

Symptoms appear consistent with anxiety symptoms, which include avoiding the situation, fearfulness of being criticized, embarrassment, racing heart, sweating, nausea, and feeling trapped, to name a few.

Although deipnophobia is associated with dinner, mealtime, or eating, it is not the actually eating that is the phobia.  Rather it is the fear associated with social interactions during mealtime.  Individuals experiencing this type of specific fear may intentionally avoid dinner or other mealtime social gathering altogether.  

Managing Deipnophobia

Embrace your deipnophobia, don’t ignore it.  It is your brain’s response to a perceived threat, which is the flight or fight response.  But when you embrace it, focus your thoughts to the “present”.  You can say to yourself, “I’m okay right now, in this moment, I am okay.”  Take a deep breathe, pause, and exhale.  

Shift your focus to the present moment.  Focus on what is going well, such as “the food great.” We all have anxious feelings.  Decide what is a real threat, or a perceived threat, and move forward.

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