The Most Widely Applied Form of Cognitive Therapy
Aaron Beck’s approach to cognitive therapy is the most widely practiced. In his 1967 book Cognitive Therapy of Depression: Causes and Treatment, he proposed that dysfunctional beliefs and associated maladaptive behavior were the major obstacles to recovery from depression. Later on, Beck extended his work beyond depression treatment to encompass anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and substance abuse problems as well.
Cognitive therapy’s primary goal is to help patients learn how to think and act differently. Therapists employ a variety of methods to identify distorted beliefs, examine them critically, and practice self-evaluation.
Psychotherapy is typically a collaborative effort, with patients and therapists deciding the appropriate interventions for each situation. In this way, the patient becomes more involved in the therapeutic process.
Through a series of sessions, the patient is taught to recognize distorted thinking that leads to relapse and learn alternative thought patterns. Additionally, they receive coaching on how to modify and sustain these new habits.
Albert Ellis (1957) developed the ABC Technique of Irrational Beliefs to aid this process. This technique examines the events leading up to irrational beliefs and shows how they are connected to patients’ distressing affect.
Cognitive therapy is a type of talk therapy in which patients meet weekly or biweekly for sessions. Patients with mild cases of anxiety or unipolar depression may be able to complete treatment within 6-12 sessions, while those with more serious mental illnesses or coexisting disorders require longer treatments.
Homework assignments are an integral component of a patient’s treatment plan. The therapist may ask the patient to jot down all their dysfunctional thoughts in writing, then review these with them during sessions. This serves to reinforce progress between appointments and provide evidence of successes.
Therapy allows the patient to express their emotions. This can be especially helpful for those who struggle with controlling or suppressing their feelings, and it may even serve as a form of stress-relieving activity.
Therapy has the major benefit of giving patients power over their lives, which can be an inspiring motivating force for many individuals.
Psychoanalytic techniques, which often require an overwhelming amount of work, require just small amounts of time for each individual’s problem. This enables patients to concentrate on solving their real-life problems and learning how to modify distorted thinking and dysfunctional behavior.
Furthermore, cognitive skills provide patients with a sense of control over their lives, helping them avoid feelings of hopelessness or despair that can sometimes accompany mental illness. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of relapse.