Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Review

Smiling woman
Buena Vista Images/Getty Images

When most people think of therapy, they come up with the old stereotypes of the psychiatrist's couch and Freudian imagery. The psychoanalytic approach of Freud isn't the only form of therapy available, however. In fact, of all the forms of therapy available, cognitive therapy is considered the best form of therapy for depression. In many cases, it can be just as effective as prescription medications.

Feeling Good and Cognitive Therapy

For those who wish to learn more about this approach to therapy, we recommend a very informative book called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns, MD. It's actually not quite as new as the title might imply. The initial work on this new therapy was begun by Aaron T. Beck in the mid 50's. Dr. Burns has also been intimately involved in the development of this new therapy and is an expert in the field.

To be so effective, cognitive therapy is actually very simple. The principle behind it is that if we think something often enough we begin to believe in its truth. Depressed people are haunted by constant negative thoughts, called cognitive distortions, which are usually a gross distortion of reality. For example, a person may say, "I'm a failure at everything." If they examined the situation from a logical standpoint they would immediately see this is far from the truth. They may not have succeeded at few things, but they have many, many more successes than failures.

For depressives, however, their past successes quickly fade from view and they concentrate only on the negative. What cognitive therapy teaches us is to avoid making this kind of logical error. It teaches us to reframe our thoughts in a way that's more consistent with reality. When we begin to make more positive and truthful statements on a regular basis we also feel better.

One very big strength of Dr. Burn's book is that he takes each of the ten common cognitive distortions and treats them individually giving powerful coping strategies for each one. This book is a useful guidebook to any patient who is undergoing treatment for depression, whether it is medication alone, therapy alone or combined therapy and medication. It is also a wonderful guidebook for those who wish to help themselves without the aid of a therapist. Dr. Burns gives us all the tools we need to begin turning our moods around.

What makes this book really outstanding, however, is the fact that Dr. Burns actually practices what he preaches. He often uses the strategies that he teaches in his own life to help diffuse stress and keep a positive outlook. If this can work for someone in a high-stress field like medicine then it can certainly work for any of us.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources