Cognitive Therapy was developed by Aaron Beck in the 1970s. It is one of the most influential and empirically validated approach to Psychotherapy. Cognitive therapy is an insight-focused therapy that emphasizes recognizing and changing maladaptive thoughts and beliefs. The basic rationale is that the way we feel and behave is determined by how we perceive and interpret events and situations. It is based on the ideology that our thoughts influence our actions, our moods, our feelings and our emotions. External factors like people, situations, and the environment are not the cause of our problems. If we correct our way of thinking and make a change in ourselves, we can cope better with the same people and situations and function better in the same environment.
It is a directive, time-limited, present-centered therapy. On an average the number of sessions that are required could range from 8-10 sessions.
The methods used include:
- Checking for systematic errors in thinking
- Examination and evaluation of Cognitive Distortions
- Testing automatic thoughts against reality
- Reality testing of one’s assumptions
- Engaging in a Socratic dialogue
- Carrying out home-work assignments
- Keeping a record of activities
In dealing with the client’s problem, a cognitive therapist shares a collaborative relationship with the client. The therapist encourages clients to take an active role in the therapy process. There is an emphasis on doing home-work exercises which will help the client to try out and test the efficacy of the techniques of cognitive therapy in daily-life situations, outside the counseling sessions.
Cognitive therapists aim to teach their clients how to be their own therapists and thus finally to be self-reliant at the end of the counseling process.
Cognitive therapy has been found to be very effective for all ages and for a variety of problems. Typically, a person experiences fairly rapid relief and maintains enduring results.