Exploring cognitive behavioral therapy with AbleTo’s chief medical officer

By Regence
February 23, 2024
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Dr. Robert Accordino
Dr. Robert Accordino leads clinical strategy, including clinical program design and clinical research to ensure AbleTo’s commitment to high-quality, evidence-based behavioral care. A practicing pediatric and adult psychiatrist, Robert serves on the faculty of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

At a time when mental health is gaining recognition for its essential role in overall well-being, finding the right support is more important than ever. Among the many care options available, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) stands out for its evidence-based approach to addressing some mental health issues.

Regence offers access to a wide range of behavioral health specialists. AbleTo, a virtual mental health provider, specializes in offering personalized CBT programs tailored to meet the unique needs of each person. We caught up with AbleTo’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Accordino to learn how CBT is used to help people cope with everyday challenges, all from the comfort of home.

Regence: Why CBT?
Dr. Accordino: The main goal of CBT is to help people change negative thought patterns and behaviors that cause emotional distress or mental health issues. It focuses on becoming aware of and adjusting these thoughts and habits to improve mental well-being. CBT teaches practical skills for coping with stress, managing emotions, solving problems, setting achievable goals and preventing setbacks. It’s effective for various mental health conditions and aims to empower individuals to lead healthier, more balanced lives.

Regence: What conditions can CBT treat?
Dr. Accordino: CBT is evidence-based and has been shown to be effective to treat a wide range of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more. It is typically a short-term, goal-oriented therapy that emphasizes collaboration between the therapist and the individual seeking treatment.

Regence: What can people expect when they contact AbleTo?
Dr. Accordino: AbleTo uses individualized CBT programs that are delivered by members of our care team. The participant and care team together decide on a treatment journey based on the physical and mental health problems that are experienced. Our mental healthcare teams collaborate with our patients’ providers who are caring for their physical health conditions.

Since therapy is often something that people may feel doubt or shame about participating in, getting someone into care is so important at the time when they are ready. Our speed to care is something we take great pride in for Regence members, with 82% of them receiving care in two days and 15% receiving care in two to seven days.[1]

Regence: Can you share an example of how a customized treatment approach led to a successful patient outcome?
Dr. Accordino: I’d like to share the story of one Regence member who recently participated in one of our AbleTo programs. Please note that her name and story have been changed to protect confidentiality.

Paula turned to AbleTo for support in managing her feelings of anxiety and depression, and challenges with substance abuse. She came to AbleTo during a depressive episode and reported having passive suicidal thoughts. Paula additionally had a strained relationship with a close family member that caused her distress. She found herself turning to alcohol to cope with her feelings.

During her intake with AbleTo, Paula was given a provisional diagnosis of Unspecified Depressive Disorder. Her assessment results showed extremely severe symptoms of depression and moderate levels of anxiety and stress. Given her scores and concerns, Paula and her therapist outlined the following treatment goals:

  • Establish a self-care and sleep hygiene routine
  • Decrease alcohol consumption and learn new coping skills
  • Improve her family’s relational and financial health

Over eight weeks, Paula worked with her therapist to develop various lifelong skills to achieve these goals. This included discovering her triggers by identifying how her body reacts to stressors. She learned to associate these reactions with emotions and the situations that drove her to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Paula also worked to improve her communication skills to maintain healthier relational boundaries.

As Paula’s symptoms gradually improved, she began eating healthier and reduced her alcohol consumption. She began bonding with her family again, including spending more time with her children. Paula additionally took control of her financial well-being, making a budget and paying down one of her credit cards. By the end of treatment, she was no longer experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Since completing our program, Paula’s anxiety and depression returned to normal levels. To provide her with the ongoing support she may need, our team provided her with three referrals, including a local psychiatrist, medication management and substance use support.

We’re here to help
If you or your loved one needs emotional support or mental health care, we can help you find the behavioral health care option that fits your needs. Most of our health plans offer virtual mental health treatment options from providers such as AbleTo Therapy+, Array, Doctor on Demand, Talkspace and Charlie Health. No referral is needed – you can visit the provider’s website and fill out their intake form for an appointment.

We encourage you to visit these providers’ websites or call us at the number listed on your member ID card to verify which virtual care and traditional behavioral health options are available through your health plan.


[1] AbleTo Time to Care report of Regence members to evaluate time from sign-up date to date of initial consultation. November 2023.