September 3, 2019

Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help Anxiety?

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy tagged , , , at 12:19 pm by kellyfdennis


The simple answer is “Yes.” Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of counseling in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged in order to change unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders such as anxiety. It is very collaborative in nature and includes homework outside of sessions. Contact me here, to sign up for a free 15 minute phone consultation to see if CBT is right for you! Be well and have a wonderful day!

August 27, 2019

Courage, It Takes Courage

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Well-being tagged , , at 9:00 am by kellyfdennis

green rice field*

Change is hard. As human beings we really have trouble with adjustment. Sure, some people will tell me they “like change”. What they really like is excitement and novelty, but even they seek familiarity.

Today think about one place you feel stuck in your life. Then take a moment to visualize what it would be like to make the change you’d like to make. Really imagine how your life would be different.

Change is inevitable…spring turns into summer without any input from us. Children go through developmental stages, our bodies age and mature. Might as well learn to embrace it! Sign up on my website for a free 15 minute phone consultation to see if you’re ready to make a change!

*Photo by Johannes Plenio on

May 29, 2019


Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , at 10:06 am by kellyfdennis

person people woman hand*

The feeling of anxiety is a part of human nature. Looking for danger and negatives kept our ancestors safe. They had reasons to be hypervigilant. In our modern world, occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision.

Anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school, and relationships.

However, being hyper vigilant 24/7 triggers the fight, flight, freeze response in our brain and body, which cause the fear center of the brain to become more reactive over time, leading to a vicious cycle of fear, anxiety, worry and insomnia. Thinking patterns of individuals with anxiety disorders are based in rumination about the past and/or apprehensive expectation (worry) about the future.

There is good news, though. Mindfulness, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy can help a person break out of the anxious thinking cycle and actually reverse the damage that anxiety does to the brain. It does this by helping the person focus on the present moment experience, thereby disengaging from the rumination and worry. It also activates parts of the brain that are in charge of relaxing and secreting feel good chemicals. Check out my latest You Tube video to get started on your path to less anxiety!

Be well and have a wonderful day!

*Photo by Public Domain Pictures on

May 15, 2019


Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Compassion, Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , , , , at 1:53 pm by kellyfdennis

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair*

Losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, going through a divorce, and other difficult situations can lead a person to feel sad, lonely,and scared. These feelings are normal reactions to life’s stressors. Most people feel low and sad at times. After a good cry or talking with a friend, we usually feel better.

However, in the case of individuals who are diagnosed with depression, the manifestations of the low mood are much more severe and they tend to persist. Crying does not help and talking with a friend is hard because one tends to feel alienated, because others can’t seem to understand why they can’t just “snap out of it.”

Major Depressive Disorder is a debilitating illness. Those suffering describe feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, despair, isolation and lonliness. One of the most difficult parts of treating depression is the negative cycle in which sufferers engage. Feelings of low self worth, negativity, and hopelessness beget more of the same thoughts and the cycle sends the person into despair.

Fortunately, when the individual learns to distance themselves from the cycle of negative thinking, he/she can begin to see a glimpse of light and hope. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, and Meditation are awesome tools to help begin the process of distancing.

Check out my YouTube video for a Cognitive therapy-based mindfulness mediation designed to help you begin to learn the process of not engaging with every negative thought.

Be well and have a wonderful day!

*Photo by Nathan Cowley on

December 19, 2018

Do You Struggle with Making Decisions?

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Well-being tagged , , , at 10:06 am by kellyfdennis

portrait of beautiful young woman over white background

Photo by Pixabay on

Try This:

STEP 1: Identify the decision to be made. You realize that a decision must be made. Your awareness may be triggered by a variety of things: the need to declare a major, pressure from friends and family to make a vocational choice, or a general sense of dissatisfaction or unease. You then go through an internal process of trying to define clearly the nature of the decision you must make.

STEP 2: Gather relevant information. Most decisions require collecting pertinent information. The real trick in this step is to know what information is needed, the best sources of information, and how to get it. Some information must be sought from within yourself through a process of self-analysis; other information must be sought from outside yourself-books, people, and other sources.

STEP 3: Identify alternatives. Through the process of collecting information you will probably identify two or more possible paths of action. You may also use your imagination and information to construct new alternatives.

STEP 4: Weigh evidence. Draw on your information and emotions to imagine what it would be like if you carried out each of the alternatives to the end. You must evaluate whether the problem or need identified in Step 1 would be helped or solved through the use of each alternative. Eventually you are able to place the available alternatives in priority order, based upon your own value system.

STEP 5: Choose among alternatives. Once you have weighed all the evidence, you are ready to select the alternative that seems to be best suited to you. You may even choose a combination of alternatives.

STEP 6: Take action. You now take some positive action that begins to implement the alternative you choose in Step 5.

STEP 7: Review decision and consequences. In this step you experience the results of your decision and evaluate whether or not it has “solved” or helped to solve the problem in Step 1. If yes, you may stay with the decision. If no, you may repeat certain steps of the process in order to make a new decision.

October 6, 2018

Counseling for Individuals with a Cancer Diagnosis

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Well-being tagged , , at 6:35 am by kellyfdennis


Cancer is the number two killer in the United States after heart disease. One in every four people will develop cancer. In general, there are three basic forms of cancer based on the part of the body that is affected: sarcomas (bone or soft tis- sue), carcinomas (surface tissue, such as lung, breast, colon), and leukemias or lymphomas (bone marrow or lymph nodes). (Read the full ACBT article here)

When individuals are first diagnosed with cancer there is often a reaction of disbelief accompanied by many negative emotions, which can include depression, anxiety, and extreme fear. Fears include apprehension about the disease itself, its treatment, doubts about the success of the treatment, and how the cancer and its treatment may affect one’s life. Physical and psychological reactions can change over time (for instance, with a change in type of treatment, or after fol- low-up tests, etc.) as the cancer either gets worse or goes away. Generally, the more widespread the disease, and the more physical impairment or disfigure- ment, the more difficult it may be to adjust psychologically to the disease. Difficulties in adjustment can interfere with day to day living, work, and relation- ships with significant others.

What Is Coping? What Affects Coping?

The better a patient can cope with the cancer, the more likely that he or she can enjoy a better quality of life. In order to deal with cancer, individuals engage in behaviors to directly address the disease; for example, choosing a problem-oriented approach to help with decisions around the type of treat- ment and where the treatment will be taken. Other, more personal, examples include redefining self-worth and realizing one’s control over the disease process. Having a reason to live, such as caring for a family, wanting to con- tribute to a business or charity, or continuing a favorite hobby, is especially helpful in coping with cancer.

An individual’s ability to cope is affected by the cancer’s severity, how far it has spread, the degree of physical debilitation, the person’s view of himself or herself and his or her purpose in life, social supports, and whether the cancer is terminal.

Positive relationships with others help the patient adjust. Individuals need to feel that they can develop and maintain warm and trusting relationships. How friends and family adjust to the diagnosis can greatly affect the cancer patient’s ability to cope with the disease. If family and friends react with denial or disbelief, or blame the patient for causing the cancer, this may lead to poorer adjustment. Conversely, having friends and family who accept the diagnosis and maintain the same warm and close relationship that existed before helps the cancer patient’s adjustment. Care providers who are open, who provide accurate information regarding disease expectations, outcomes, and sensory experiences greatly assist the cancer patient’s ability to cope with this traumatic illness.

Behavior Therapy

One area that has been the focus of most of the research for psychological interventions is the use of relaxation training (learning to relax certain muscle groups, or biofeedback) to reduce chemotherapy treatment side effects. Relaxation training is effective in reducing anxiety, nausea, and vomiting, both before and after chemotherapy. Strategies for reducing stress, including relaxation training and education about particular medical procedures, also help reduce anxiety and increase compliance with the doctor’s treatment rec- ommendations.

There are several goals in the use of behavior therapy with cancer patients. The first goal is to help the individual learn to problem solve around dealing with the disease, its treatment and side effects, and to increase feelings of con- trol over the disease. The second goal of behavior therapy approaches is to address specific problems, such as sexual dysfunction, which the cancer or cancer treatment(s) may cause. A third goal of behavioral approaches is to deal with compliance issues that may directly affect the success of medical treatments for the cancer.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Individuals with cancer often have many fears and misconceptions about the disease, its outcome, its treatments, and their own ability to cope. Cognitive behavioral approaches can help patients to identify negative beliefs that may hinder their ability to accept the diagnosis and cope with the disease. Once dysfunctional beliefs are identified, individuals can challenge these neg- ative thoughts, develop more rational responses, and think more positively, particularly regarding their role in adjusting to the disease. The ability to examine negative thoughts objectively and to replace them with more posi- tive, adaptive thoughts greatly enhances quality of life. Cognitive therapies are also used to help individuals who are terminally ill to accept or reduce their fear of death and dying. Other cognitive strategies involve imagery in conjunc- tion with relaxation training.

October 4, 2018

Psychology and Headaches

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Well-being tagged , , , at 6:00 am by kellyfdennis

person people woman hand

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on

Doctors have long noted a link between stress and headaches. Stress can be related to headache in three ways. Stress can directly set off the biological events underlying headache. Stress can intensify an existing headache. The prolonged presence of a headache can itself begin to exert a psychological toll (or stress) on the individual. The person becomes “sick and tired of feeling sick and tired”. Depression and anxiety sometimes occur in people with headaches of long-standing, unremitting origin. (see the full ABCT article here.)

Behavior Therapy Treatment Approaches

The behavior therapist first assists the patient in studying factors that might bring on, maintain, or worsen headaches. The patient may be asked to keep track of these factors each day. This is done with a “headache diary.” The patient also rates pain, frequency, severity, and duration. The information is helpful in judging progress during treatment. Three behavior therapy tech- niques have been developed for use with headache patients: biofeedback ther- apy, relaxation training, and stress coping training.


Biofeedback teaches patients how to control the bodily processes that bring about headache. For example, in the treatment of tension headache, sensors are attached to the affected muscles (on the skin surface) so that the patient is provided ongoing information, or “feedback,” about activity in the monitored muscles. Armed with this information, the patient strives to lower the muscle activity to a more acceptable level. This is a way of alleviating pain. Biofeedback therapy for migraine involves teaching patients one of two ways to control the body. One way is through control of hand surface temperature. This provides a good index of nervous-system arousal and blood flow. Another way is through monitoring blood flow in the temple area. This is a common site of migraine.

Relaxation Skills

Relaxation also teaches control of one’s body. A common relaxation method is to do a series of exercises. The exercises involve tensing and releasing muscles. This helps the patient to feel relaxed. Biofeedback works with specific bodily response systems. Relaxation works on the entire body.

Stress Coping

Stress coping training provides patients with a general set of problem solv- ing or coping skills. These can be used to manage a wide range of situations

associated with headache. This treatment uses various cognitive and behav- ioral treatment methods. These keep stress factors more manageable. Patients may be taught how to become less reactive emotionally. They may be taught to interpret potentially upsetting situations more objectively. They are taught to manage time, interpersonal situations, and the like. They are also taught to react better to the psychological distress that can result from chron- ic headache itself. Often the behavior therapist will combine all of these methods.

September 4, 2018

A Community Discussion About Depression

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , at 11:28 am by kellyfdennis

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach

Photo by Pixabay on

Depression is a disorder that can strike anyone at any age. It strikes across all barriers, making its sufferers miserable and robbing them of joy and satisfaction. Join Kelly F. Dennis MS LPC and Millersville Community Church for a discussion of the various types of depression and how to deal with them. Kelly is a Licensed Professional Counselor with an office in Millersville, PA. She has experience in helping individuals and families work through mental health issues including, eating disorders, anxiety, & depression.

Kelly uses an approach that combines genetic, cognitive, social, and cultural factors in assessing behavior. Participants will learn about various forms of depression, including Major Depressive Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder. During our time together, we’ll learn how to moderate the effects of depression through mindfulness meditation, loving kindness, cognitive therapy, and breathing.

Relief from depression begins with understanding its causes and resulting behaviors. Equip yourself to cope with depression, either in yourself or in someone you care about. Our workshop will convene at Grace Campus on Saturday, September 29 at 9 am. Gather for a light breakfast in the Family Life Center before making your way to the Sanctuary for Kelly’s presentation. The workshop should wrap up around 11:00am. Admission is free, but we are asking that you register in advance by contacting Bruce Heydt at, or by calling 717-872-4571.

August 12, 2018

Why Am I Still So Depressed?

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Mindfulness, Self Image, Well-being tagged , , , , , , at 2:55 pm by kellyfdennis

alone anime art artistic

Photo by Pixabay on

Major Depressive disorder has been identified by the World Health Organization as the most debilitating illness worldwide. There are many therapies, medicines, treatments and it still remains the most debilitating illness. One reason for this is that it seems that depression is subjectively experienced differently by each person it affects. One form of treatment that touches on most of the aspects of depression is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression (MBCT).
•Combines cognitive behavioral techniques with mindfulness strategies in order to help individuals better understand and manage their thoughts and emotions in order to achieve relief from feelings of distress.
•Helps clients learn how to recognize their sense of being and see themselves as separate from their thoughts (inner critic) and moods. This disconnect can allow people to become liberated from thought patterns in which the same negative messages may be replayed over and over.
•During MBCT, I help the person acknowledge that even though these thoughts feel like “truths” in those  moments of feeling low, in fact they are just the symptoms of depression.
•Becoming aware, through mindfulness, that the thoughts are “just the depression voice talking” allows them to step back from the thoughts and decide how seriously they need to take them.
•Perhaps, learning to just notice them, acknowledge them, and let them go.
Schedule an appointment today to talk about using this therapy to help you to feel better!

August 1, 2018

Courage, It Takes Courage

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Well-being tagged , , at 9:18 am by kellyfdennis

green rice field*

Change is hard. As human beings we really have trouble with adjustment. Sure, some people will tell me they “like change”. What they really like is excitement and novelty, but even they seek familiarity.

Today think about one place you feel stuck in your life. Then take a moment to visualize what it would be like to make the change you’d like to make. Really imagine how your life would be different.

Change is inevitable…spring turns into summer without any input from us. Children go through developmental stages, our bodies age and mature. Might as well learn to embrace it! Sign up on my website for a free 15 minute phone consultation to see if you’re ready to make a change!

*Photo by Johannes Plenio on

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