- This article is about Beck's Cognitive Therapy. For the main category of psychotherapy, see Cognitive behavioural therapy.
Cognitive Therapy (CT) is a type of psychotherapy developed by psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. Becoming disillusioned with long-term psychodynamic approaches based on gaining insight into unconscious emotions and drives, Beck came to the conclusion that the way in which his clients perceived and interpreted and attributed meaning—a process known scientifically as cognition—in their daily lives was a key to therapy. Albert Ellis was working on similar ideas from a different perspective, in developing his rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT). Beck initially focused on depression and developed a list of "errors" in thinking that he proposed could cause or maintain depression, including arbitrary inference, selective abstraction, over-generalization, and magnification (of negatives) and minimization (of positives). Cognitive therapy seeks to identify and change "distorted" or "unrealistic" ways of thinking, and therefore to influence emotion and behaviour.
Beck outlined his approach in Depression: Causes and Treatment in 1967. He later expanded his focus to include anxiety disorders, in Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders in 1976, and other disorders and problems. He also introduced a focus on the underlying "schema"—the fundamental underlying ways in which people process information—whether about the self, the world or the future. Treatment is based on collaboration between client and therapist and on testing beliefs.
The new cognitive approach came into conflict with the behaviourism ascendant at the time, which denied that talk of mental causes was scientific or meaningful, rather than simply assessing stimuli and behavioural responses. However, the 1970s saw a general "cognitive revolution" in psychology. Behavioural modification techniques and cognitive therapy techniques became joined together, giving rise to cognitive behavioural therapy. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with cognitive therapy, since cognitive therapy has always included some behavioural components, but advocates of Beck's particular approach seek to maintain and establish its integrity as a distinct clearly-standardized kind of cognitive behavioural therapy.
- "A Pragmatic Man and His No-Nonsense Therapy" by Erica Goode New York Times January 11 2000
- "An Application of Beck's Cognitive Therapy to General Anger Reduction" - Abstract of paper published in Cognitive Therapy and Research Volume 24, Number 6, December 2000, pp. 689-697(9)
- Why Distinguish Between Cognitive Therapy and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - The Beck Institute Newsletter, February 2001
- Cognitive Therapy Today
- An Introduction to Cognitive Therapy & CBT
- The Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research
- The Academy of Cognitive Therapy
- The International Institute for the Advanced Studies of Psychotherapy and Applied Mental Health
- Use Cognitive Therapy to treat depression