Cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy and one of the therapeutic approaches within a larger group of cognitive behavioral therapies. The method of cognitive therapy was first discovered in 1960s. The major postulate of this approach is in the belief that patients may triumph over difficulties by recognizing and changing their dysfunctional thinking, behavior and emotional responses. In the course of treatment, patient and therapist are closely collaborating while testing patient’s beliefs.
The goal of testing is to determine the way at which patients beliefs are unrealistic and how they may be changed. To explain this mechanism, we may observe an everyday example: a person was turned down for a job and starts to believe that he or she was passed over for the job because he or she was fundamentally incompetent. Person may become depressed and be less likely to apply for similar job positions in the future. Along with depression, feeling of disappointment may also be present. Therapy aims to help the client to become aware of thought distortions which are causing psychological distress, by using different cognitive therapy techniques.
Validity testing is used to validate patients’ disorder. In the process of validity testing therapist will usually ask the patient to defend his beliefs. In many cases patient may be unable to find an objective evidence for his feelings and therapist may conclude that the disorder is present.
When using this technique, therapist will first ask the patient to imagine the difficult situation encountered in the past. Then, patient and therapist will practice the best possible way to solve the problem. The goal is to make the patient understand the patterns of healthy dealing with problematic situations and cope with similar problems in the future successfully.
This technique consists of a series of questions asked by the therapist. Questions are carefully designed so that they guide the patient towards the discovery of patient’s own cognitive distortions. The goal is to make a patient aware of his own problems.
Patients are advised to keep as much as possible detailed diary of situations they experience in everyday life. Besides the description of different situations, patients are asked to explain their thoughts and emotional feelings. The goal of this technique is to discover bad patterns of thinking, by review, and guided analysis.
Possibly the most important cognitive therapy technique is application. This technique involves application of newly learned skills in everyday life. The other part of the treatment includes reading books related to the problem and treatment.