Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT) for Weight Loss – Program Overview

CBT for weight loss is provided at all Shane camps. We teach strategies for permanent weight loss. Campers discover why they are over eating and develop a specific plan for what to do to maintain healthy eating after they return home.

The Cognitive Behavioral Technique program was created by Michelle Maidenberg, Ph.D. The sessions at camp are run by Behavioral Coaches who live at the camp. They typically have a Masters Degree, are in Graduate School, are teachers, or have other relevant qualifications. They are not therapists. The group is a safe and happy environment. Your child will participate in two group therapy sessions per week.


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Expert
  • Certified Group Psychotherapist
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Adjunct Professor of CBT at NYU Graduate School
  • Author of articles in The NY Times, Fitness, Shape

What Do The Sessons Cost?

You pay only $20.00 per sesson. There are two sessons per week.

A Powerful Tool For Weight Loss Success

  • This idea has been successfully used to encourage weight loss for almost 50 years.
  • Research in medical centers around the world supports its effectiveness.
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy is an integral part of our weight loss program.
  • Dr. Michelle Maidenberg, a group psychotherapist, created Camp Shane’s own CBT program.

What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)?

CBT is a form of short term counseling that can be used to solve eating problems.

Therapists have developed standardized strategies that can be efficiently taught to groups in a short period of time. The goal is for our campers to change their behavior and lifestyle when they return home.

The “C” in CBT stands for “Cognitive”

Cognitive refers to the way we think about ourselves and the world. It means identifying and changing our attitudes about our weight and shape and keep our focus positive and realistic.

For instance, how do we react when we, inevitably, give in to some temptation? Do we automatically see it as relapse and give up? In CBT, we challenge this kind of pessimistic, “black or white” thinking. We become aware of self-defeating thoughts and negative self-images as a first step to changing them.

The “B” in CBT is “Behavioral”

Here is where we learn to gain real control of our behavior. We learn to recognize unhealthy eating patterns and come up with alternatives, so that we can manage ourselves in social situations, when we are upset or whatever it is that causes us to overeat. We learn to pursue an active life. For instance, behavioral methods may include skills in making and honoring a commitment to eating certain foods before we enter a situation or using a graph to begin an exercise program.


What Training Includes

Camp Shane has a unique program to help campers get through the mental barriers that often get in the way of healthy living.

CBT is taught to small groups in a short time. Weekly CBT sessions, along with nutrition and cooking classes, give our campers the tools for long-term success.

What’s special about Camp Shane’s program?

Camp Shane is a traditional camp, emphasizing fun and friendship, camp activities, special events. We provide an environment where kids don’t have to feel self-conscious – they are free to join in the fun, free to be themselves, free to be kids.

This component of our program is in place to give our children another tool in their long-term weight loss goals. It’s equally important to feel that weight, and weight loss, does not define who our campers are.


“Self-monitoring” is a buzz word you’ve probably heard. It means recording what you eat and drink and any exercise you do, along with your thoughts and feelings at the time, in a journal.

Self-monitoring is crucial. It helps you become more aware of your eating and activity patterns. It gives you a basis from which to plan changes. It helps keep you focused on your goals and allows you to look back and see how things have changed over time. Writing it down gives you the chance to think twice before you act so you are encouraged to make conscious choices about what you eat and do. This is probably why people who keep a food diary and monitor what they eat actually consume 15% less food than those do not.

Stress Management

We learn stress management skills to help us cope more effectively with daily hassles in lieu of eating while we are upset. Stress management skills include relaxation and breathing exercises as well as strategies for de catastrophizing events and avoiding the tendency to be self critical. We also teach problem solving, effective communication and developing improved self esteem.

Specific Strategies For Healthy Eating And Exercise

Examples include:

  • Keeping temptations out of the house
  • Having a good supply of healthy foods
  • Developing a regular eating pattern
  • Not skipping meals or snacks
  • Focusing on what you eat
  • Restricting where you eat
  • Putting down your utensils and pausing between bites
  • Creating rewards for healthy eating
  • Creating a list of alternate activities to eating
  • Timing meals and snacks to deal with special situations
  • Wearing comfortable clothes and shoes so you can be active in your daily life


  • We can all benefit from knowing the answers to these questions:
  • What is a healthy weight?
  • What is a healthy way to lose weight?
  • What is the science of how your body gains and loses weight?
  • How much do you need to eat to lose weight?
  • How much do you need to eat to maintain a healthy weight?
  • How much activity is good for you?


  • If your child has issues that have interfered with prior treatment for weight loss.
  • If they are demoralized from past failures.
  • If they need help dealing with anxiety, social problems or poor self-esteem.
  • If there is an underlying psychological challenge or issue responsible for weight gain.

Group Sessions Develop Skills
Sessions are pre-planned and “lessons” and “workshops.”

  • Sessions focus on weight management issues only.
  • Setting challenging but achievable goals for eating and exercise.
  • Self monitoring skills.
  • Planning for difficult eating situations.
  • Awareness of thoughts and feelings that affect eating and exercise.
  • Development of new skills to cope with emotions.
  • Dealing with the stress of obesity bias.
  • Tackling the history of body image concerns.
  • Note that these sessions are not psychotherapy for primary psychological issues.

The camp is not equipped to handle children with significant emotional and behavioral issues that might prevent them from functioning successfully at camp. Please refer to our contract of enrollment for more information.

“I soon realized it is helping not only me but my family.”
Svenya S, New York

My experience at camp Shane was truly unforgettable. I lost weight and had fun at the same time. At first I was really homesick. My mother and I have an unbreakable bond and I was so upset leaving her. I later remembered that I was sent here for a reason. The reason was to be healthier. I soon realized it is helping not only me but my family. I’m happy to say I’m truly starting to become a part of the camp Shane family.


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