Cognitive Behavioral Theory

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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, problem-centered therapy that is used to address psychopathology within the individual (Beck, 1995). This model of therapy is used to address issues of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, relational problems, and drug abuse, and can be utilized when working with individuals, as well as within group and family modalities. The core aspects of this therapy include collaboration and participation by the client, a strong alliance between therapist and client, and an initial focus on current problems and functioning (Beck, 1995). The theory of CBT emphasizes the relationship between the individual’s thoughts feelings and behaviors, which is seen as being the underlying cause of psychopathology in individuals. Therefore, this theory asserts that the identification, evaluation, and modification of one’s negative thoughts will lead to an improvement in one’s mood and behaviors (Beck, 1995). It is important to understand the concepts and theory from which CBT is based in order for it to be efficiently implemented in therapeutic work with individuals, groups, or families.
While CBT is used to treat psychological disorders, this theory can be examined by looking at the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individual’s with an absence of psychopathology. Beck (1979) and Beck (1995) present the cognitive model in order to explain the theory of CBT. The cognitive model demonstrates that the emotions that an individual experiences and the behaviors that they exhibit are a result of their perception of a situation or event (Beck, 1995). When in any given situation, an individual’s immediate thought response is their automatic thought (Beck, 1995). These thoughts are an immediate evaluation of the situation, which in turn directly influence the feeling that a person has about the situation. Automatic thoughts are experienced by everyone and occur in the individual’s mind prior to reasoning. These thoughts occur swiftly



References: Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., & Emery, G. (1979) Cognitive therapy of depression. NY: The Guilford Press. Beck, J.S. (1995) Cognitive therapy: basics and beyond. NY: The Guilford Press.

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