Mark Peterson 
Article Title
Cognitive Therapy for Troubled Teens 
Posted Date

The particular therapeutic techniques vary according to the particular kind of client or issue, but commonly include keeping a diary of significant events and associated feelings, thoughts and behaviors; questioning and testing cognitions, assumptions, evaluations and beliefs that might be unhelpful and unrealistic; gradually facing activities which may have been avoided; and trying out new ways of behaving and reacting. Relaxation and distraction techniques are also commonly included. We hike, have team experiential activities and exercise for relaxation. One of the distraction techniques is sawing logs with a team member. CBT is widely accepted as an evidence- and empiricism-based, cost-effective psychotherapy for many disorders and psychological problems. It is sometimes used with the groups of students as well as individually.

An example will illustrate the process: Having made a mistake, a person believes, I am useless and can't do anything right. This, in turn, worsens the mood, leading to feelings of depression; the problem may be worsened if the individual reacts by avoiding activities and then behaviorally confirming his negative belief to himself. As a result, a successful experience becomes more unlikely, which reinforces the original thought of being useless. In therapy program, the latter example could be identified as a self-fulfilling prophecy or problem cycle, and the efforts of the therapist and student would be directed at working together to change this. This is done by addressing the way the student thinks and behaves in response to similar situations and by developing more flexible ways to think and respond, including reducing the avoidance of activities. If, as a result, the student escapes the negative thought patterns and destructive behaviors, the feelings of depression may, over time, be relieved. The student may then become more active, succeed more often, and further reduce feelings of depression.

The objectives of CBT typically are to identify irrational or maladaptive thoughts, assumptions and beliefs that are related to debilitating negative emotions and to identify how they are dysfunctional, inaccurate, or simply not helpful. This is done in an effort to reject the distorted cognitions and to replace them with more realistic and self-helping alternatives. Cognitive behavioral therapy is not an overnight process. Even after students have learned to recognize when and where their mental processes go awry, it can take months of effort to replace any dysfunctional cognitive-affective-behavioral processes or habit with a more reasonable, salutary one. The cognitive model especially emphasized in Aaron Becks cognitive therapy says that a person core beliefs (often formed in childhood) contribute to automatic thoughts that pop up in every day life in response to situations. Experiencing the change of environment in the wilderness can help break that cycle of automatic thoughts in every day life situations and be able to have a new outlook and think differently.

Mark Peterson has done a lot of research about wilderness therapy program. Through his research he has compiled a lot of information about behavior modification
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