On-line Cognitive Therapy Program

R. Skip Johnson

In a survey of 700 members, eighty-two percent (82%) self-tested as having mild-extreme depression when taking the Stanford Depression test.

Cognitive  Behavioral Therapy for Depression

Cognitive behavioral treatment therapy was developed by Aaron Beck in the 1970s and through the work of David Burns, MD, has grown to be the most prescribed treatment for depression. Cognitive therapy programs train people to replace maladaptive cognitive styles with helpful thinking patterns and increase behavioral coping skills. CBT is a very useful coping tool for family and partners (current and former) of individuals with borderline personalty disorder.

Cognitive therapy is based on an underlying theoretical rationale that an individual’s affect and behavior are largely determined by the way in which he structures the world" (Beck, A, Rush, JA, Shaw, BF, Emery, G 1979 Cognitive Therapy of Depression).

CBT is effective for:

  1. Dealing with guilt
  2. Handling hostility and criticism
  3. Overcoming addiction to love and approval
  4. Building self–esteem.

Cognitive therapy programs train people to replace maladaptive cognitive styles with helpful thinking patterns and increase behavioral coping skills.

To rule-in or rule-out depression, or calibrate the level (mild, severe, extreme) take this five minute test (free site membership required):


Stanford Depression Test


Bibliotherapy: A book as therapy ($7.50)

Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns, MD is the book most frequently "prescribed" by psychologists in Medical Settings for patients undergoing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (four million copies have been sold in the United States.).

In a study published September 1, 2010 in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, researchers concluded that reading Feeling Good,  alone, is as effective as the standard of care, which commonly involves face to face therapy and antidepressant medicines for mild depression. This is the fifth study on this landmark book which BPDFamily.com credits as being a significant catalyst in the advancement of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) in modern clinical therapy.

In one well known part of the book, Burns discusses 10 'Cognitive Distortions'. Here, he lays out a plan for recognizing faulty thinking, how these thoughts affect our moods, and how to correct these distortions.

  1. All-or-Nothing Thinking
  2. Over-generalization
  3. Mental Filter
  4. Disqualifying the Positive
  5. Jumping to Conclusions
  6. Magnification and Minimization
  7. Emotional Reasoning
  8. Should Statements
  9. Labeling and Mislabeling
  10. Personalization

Read reviews of the book and purchase a copy for under $5.00:


Review of "Feeling Good"


MoodGym Online CBT Program ($35.00/year)

MoodGYM is an interactive web program designed to prevent and decrease depressive symptoms. It was designed for young people but is helpful for people of all ages. MoodGym was developed by the Australian National University.

It has been shown that computerized-CBT is an effective treatment for mild and moderate depression (Jamison & Scogin, 1995; Selmi, Klein & Greist et al., 1990; Osgood-Hynes, Greist & Marks et al., 1998) Its efficacy in treating depressive disorders in adults and adolescents is well established (Depression Guideline Panel, 1993; NHMRC, 1997).

This is a sophisticated program that will take 1-2 weeks (multiple sessions on-line with off-line exercises) to complete. It teaches the principles of cognitive behavior therapy, using flashed diagrams and online exercises, MoodGYM demonstrates the relationship between thoughts and emotions - users are taught to come to grips with their own feelings and the 'warpy' thoughts that might accompany them. MoodGYM also works through dealing with stress, handling separation and relationship break-ups, as well as relaxation and meditation techniques.


To run the MoodGym program:




Helen Christensen explains her experience.

Could this really work? I set out to investigate several weeks ago.

At the beginning, MoodGYM appears to preach in sickeningly optimistic generalities, like the typical self-help book, offering brief surveys and a range of characters that illustrate certain personality types. The user can then look at mantras and thought processes of each character and hopefully be able to relate to at least one of them. Once the user can relate to a character, they should ideally begin to acquire some perspective over the sad feelings they've been experiencing.

This may sound cheesy, but MoodGYM seems to embrace cheesiness and humor as mechanisms for users to not take themselves so seriously, which is refreshing. A good example is the "warpy thoughts" exercise, which examines the user's tendency to interpret situations negatively, and how to turn that around. Warpy thoughts include the self-explanatory "disqualifying the positive" and "jumping to conclusions," terms we hear thrown around but often fail to apply to our own daily behavior.

After the warpy thoughts are identified, MoodGYM begins to attack self-esteem issues by allowing the user to practice "talking to [him or her]self like a friend would" and "increasing positive self-interpretations." The "What you think is what you feel" module encourages the user to tackle their own negative thoughts and take control of their direction. For example, what if you talk to someone and make one misinformed remark? You might focus on your blunder and assume you made a fool of yourself, when in reality the conversation as a whole may have been successful and positive.

MoodGYM continues to introduce new ideas and opportunities for the user to discuss personal situations and follow examples on how to view them in a positive, or at least less negative light. I was actually motivated to do this because all of MoodGYM's theories were explained in a comprehensible, straightforward way, and continued to use the encouraging, humorous tone they'd had since the beginning.

MoodGYM emphasizes the importance of self-evaluation and looking at the "big picture." It is based on a type of therapy called Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which focuses on changing how people think about themselves and how they behave. While some would say this is advice is ordinary, somehow MoodGYM has figured out a way to connect it to our lives, convincing us that insecurities really are overcomable if one wants to overcome them.

MoodGYM's success is undoubtedly built around the person's desire to improve their attitude. Since the website is highly interactive, how much one gets out of it depends on how much is put into it.

Can MoodGYM replace human contact or medication? Probably not. But it is free and can provide insight to a range of people, those who have been in a rut from a few months to a lifetime.

From my experience, I believe it can be effective for anyone, as long as they are willing to log on with an open mind

Last modified: 
January 04, 2021