Atlanta Center For Cognitive Therapy 

  (404) 842-0555


ACCT was founded in 1985 and was the first treatment & training institute of its type in the Southeast.  Our therapists include child, adolescent, and adult psychologists, licensed professional counselors, and addiction experts.  Several of our staff are also faculty at Emory University School of Medicine & Georgia State University,  and are involved in research of treatment for emotional problems.

Clinicians listed in alphabetical order:
Charlie A. Davidson, Ph.D.

Dr. Davidson is our most recent associate and a director of Training at our Center. He has numerous publications and conducts research as a Post Doctoral Fellow at Emory University. He is currently providing psychotherapy on Saturdays at our Center.
John Endress, M.S., LPC
John Endress has 25 years experience in Mental Health working with adult clients. Specialties include all anxiety disorders (such as panic, phobias, and generalized anxiety), obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, bipolar disorder and chronic pain. His strong orientation toward cognitive-behavioral therapy is due to its high success rate and his own personal comfort with its collaborative, non-judgemental, problem-solving approach.


Michele Endress, M.S., L.P.C.

Michele Endress has been with Atlanta Center for Cognitive Therapy for over 24 years and works with a broad crossection of mental health issues. She has experience working with Cognitive methods as well as being able to provide those who want emphasis on their religious values along with treatment. Michele works with individual and couples. 

Mark Gilson, Ph.D.

Mark Gilson, Ph.D., is the founder of the Atlanta Center, established in 1985. He is former faculty, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School's Center for Cognitive Therapy under the direction of Aaron T. Beck, M.D. He is a founding fellow for the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and is also board certified and Fellow of the American Board of Professional Psychology.  He has published professional articles and book chapters over the past 30 years. Dr. Gilson is current adjunct faculty member with Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Georgia State University Department of Psychology.  Along with his private practice that focuses on the treatment of depression, anxiety and stress disorders, he also directs Atlanta Center for Cognitive Therapy’s professional training and certification program that is approved by National Board of Certified Counselors and American Psychological Association since 1988 to offer continuing education to psychologists and professional counselors. ACCT maintains responsibility for its programs. He also has been producer and announcer for college, professional, and community radio, including “On Your Mind,” a program that focused on issues in mental health.

Dr. Gilson collaborates with David Barlow, Ph.D., Aaron T. Beck, M.D., David Burns, M.D., Arthur Freeman, Ed.D., and Donald Meichenbaum, Ph.D. on a variety of training projects. A new client book with Dr. Art Freeman as co-author on Managing Depression is now in the works (to be published by Oxford University Press). 

Randy Beggs, Ph.D. 

                           Dr. Beggs works extensively with couples and individuals questioning or struggling with issues of sexual identity, compulsive sexual behavior, trauma, mood disorders, attachment disorders, dissociative disorders, male body image and end of life issues. He uses an integration of several therapeutic approaches in formulation of client issues and treatment plans. He is available limited hours at ACCT.

Daniel Shapiro, Ph.D.

        Dr. Shapiro is a clinical psychologist and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Emory University.  He is one of our directors of Training and based in California. He is licensed in Georgia and Massachusetts and California.  Dr. Shapiro specializes in particular in two major areas, relying heavily on growth- and resiliency-oriented cognitive-behavioral approaches, but emphasizing the importance and power of relationships in our lives.  First is the assessment and treatment in adolescents and adults of mood, anxiety, and trauma-related concerns.  Second is working with those with symptoms of psychosis or at-risk syndromes.  
  He served as a fellow in Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania with Aaron T. Beck, M.D., before joining the faculty in the Medical School at Harvard University.  He has published numerous scientific articles and book chapters on the  development, treatment, and prevention of mental health concerns, focusing in particular on the roles of stress and cognitive processes.   In addition to ACCT, Dr. Shapiro has also been involved in training programs for mental health practitioners in Philadelphia, in Massachusetts at Harvard University’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, and currently within California Mental Health system. 


Sara Shepherd, Ph.D.

After many years working as a psychologist in university counseling centers, Dr. Shepherd turned to private practice, joining ACCT in 2009.  She has an undergraduate degree in Social Work from West Virginia University, a graduate degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Tennessee—Knoxville.  In addition, she received advanced training at the University of Illinois.  Dr. Shepherd is licensed in the state of Georgia.

Dr. Shepherd sees older adolescents and adults for individual psychotherapy.  Her professional interests include the treatment of eating disorders, women’s issues, anxiety, and depression.  She approaches therapy using primarily behavioral and cognitive techniques to provide both support and challenge to clients.  Dr. Shepherd is a member of the Academy of Eating Disorders. She has presented at several conferences, published articles, and conducted training sessions on the assessment and treatment of eating disorders and related clinical issues. Dr. Shepherd's website is

John T. Watkins, Ph.D.

John Watkins received his doctoral degree from the University of Georgia in 1967, following which he was a postdoctoral fellow in Detroit, Michigan.  He has been Board Certified since 1972.  John spent 20 years on the faculty of several universities, where he published 40-50 research papers in the areas of clinical depression and impulse control.  After returning to Atlanta, he joined the Atlanta Center for Cognitive Therapy in 1989. He is the past president of a state psychological association and past chair of the Ethics Committee in two states.  His
interests are in seeing clients suffering from depression or anxiety disorders (phobias, panic, OCD) and in doing forensic exams such as psychosexual evaluations.

 Dr. Molly 

                                                             Dr. Molly Wolfson is a Licensed Psychologist with expertise in child, adolescent, and family psychology.   Her primary focus involves assessment of brain functions associated with ADHD, learning disabilities, developmental delays, processing weaknesses, language disorder, and other cognitive impairments.  She specializes individual, family and group therapy across all ages.

M. Jane Yates, Ph.D.
Dr. Yates is is a co-director and co-founder of The Cognitive Therapy Training and Certification Program. She is also a Certified Psychoanalytic Therapist and outgoing President of Atlanta Psychoanalytic Society based at Emory University. She is co author of the Oxford University published books Overcoming Depression: A Cognitive Therapy Approach, including the therapist manual and patient workbook. She is a consultant at the Regional Office of Social Security Administration in Atlanta.


 What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

The term "cognitive" refers to our thoughts, perceptions, interpretations, and beliefs.  Many psychological issues are associated with habits in thinking, including biased beliefs about ourselves, others, the world around us, and the future.  Our behaviors or activities in which we engage also affect our emotional state.  If left unchecked, negative automatic thinking and behavior patterns can lead to feelings such as depression, stress, or anxiety.  They also largely affect our relationships with others.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term psychotherapy, which emphasizes collaboration between client and therapist.  More focused than many other types of treatment, the course of therapy usually is three to six months, depending on the individual's particular issues.

In therapy, the client and therapist are actively involved in identifying specific thinking and behavior patterns that may be giving rise to problems.  As ingrained beliefs and contributing behaviors are revealed, new ways of perceiving, feeling, and acting can begin to take shape.  For couples, uncovering negative behavior patterns, discussing perceptions, and experimenting with new ways of interacting can improve relationships.
The CBT Model In a Nutshell
The CBT model suggests that in any experience, there are 5 primary factors involved that spell BEAST.  One factor to consider pertains to our Biology or what goes on with us phsyically.  Next is Emotion, or description of how we feel.  Activity or Behavior is what we do.  Situation is what is going on around us or our environment.  Thought or cognition represents how we think or interpret situations. While each of these areas can be thought of as distinct entities, they are all interrelated and have a large influence on each other.  In fact, a change in any of these  factors results in changing the other ones to some degree (see the diagram below). Cognitive Therapy focuses on changing thoughts and actions or behaviors to change the system of experience.

Our cognitions (thoughts/beliefs) are heavily influenced by our environment, our culture, and the events we've lived through.  When we are in a particular situation, our THOUGHTS about that event largely determine how we will FEEL about it and what ACTION we might or might not take.  Similarly our mood can flavor how we think about a particular situation or how we behave.  And, our behavior can influence our thoughts and emotions.   The diagram above shows how each of these three aspects (Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors) each impact the others.
Because our beliefs, expectations, and general philosophy on life are so ingrained within us, they affect us in ways that might not be readily apparent.  As we move through life, without even realizing it, we create our own personal rule-book of life, based on our experiences.  We tend to take this rule-book as fact and live our lives according to it, without question.  Imagine if our government used the original U.S. Constitution of the United States as it was originally written, without any of the amendments that have been made over the years; you can see how laws that may have served some purpose in the past would be of no use and possibly cause great harm if left unchecked.  Just as a country needs to reevaluate its laws and make necessary changes, we need to inspect our personal rule-books.  In this way, we can keep what might still be helpful today, while challenging and amending what might be causing us more harm than good. 
In CBT, you will engage in specific techniques to help uncover your automatic thoughts, beliefs, and expectations, allowing you to mindfully decide what might be keeping you stuck in feeling depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed.  You will also better understand how your beliefs, expectations, and behavior patterns are giving rise to negative interactions with others.  Learning new, more realistic, ways to view yourself, others, and your future in therapy as well as experimenting with new behaviors with the support of your therapist may be the key to improving your mood, lowering stress, or improving your relationships.

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