Cognitive therapy is a form of medicaltreatment which was developed by an American psychiatrist named AaronT. Beck. Cognitive therapy, in fact, is a part taken from the wholegroup of approaches called the cognitive behavioral therapy. However,cognitive therapy per se, initially got expanded and improved by Beckin the 1960s.
The following lines will explain thebasic postulates of this therapy and present its ways of helpingpeople deal with mental illnesses.
Cognitive Therapy for DysfunctionalThinking
In order to treat dysfunctionalthinking, cognitive therapy focuses on identifying and changing itfirst, through the process of observation of emotional responses andgeneral behavior. So, basically, cognitive therapy helps patientsdevelop the skills necessary for modifying their beliefs andidentifying the inadequate patterns of their thinking. Later, oncethey have managed to do this, the patients gradually become able tochange their behavioral patterns into more desirable ones, throughcollaborating with their therapists.
In order to achieve all these demandingsteps of progress and recovery, the therapist needs to test theassumptions which the patient makes, assessing how distorted,unrealistic or unhelpful these are. Simply, people who suffer fromcertain behavioral problems or disorders experience these problemsdue to the fact that they make behavioral errors repeatedly,succumbing to inadequate and damaging patterns of conduct andthinking. For example, people who are depressed, according tocognitive therapy make errors in forms of arbitrary inference,selective abstraction, over-generalization, minimization of positivesand magnification of negatives. Hence, these are the behavioralproblems which need to be corrected in order for a person to overcomehis/her condition.
Sometimes, when the therapy cannot makethe patient fully expel the negative thought out of his/her life,these are left with him/her. However, some other behavioral patternsare modified, allowing the patient to successfully avoid thepotentially harmful effects of the negativities. In such a behavioralsetting, the negative thought patterns disappear on their own, over acourse of time.
Methods of Cognitive Therapy
The methods this therapy uses dependgreatly on the condition the patient suffers from. Simply, cognitivetherapy knows of 10 most frequent patterns of improper thinking,calling these cognitive distortions. Thus, if these are present,cognitive therapy will treat them in order to help the personovercome any of the behavioral problems he/she has.
First of all, all-or-nothing thinkingis a form of cognitive distortion. Here, people cannot notice themiddle scenario of things. Rather, they focus on “forever”,“never”, “always” and some other absolute terms. Secondly,people with behavioral pattern problems are prone toover-generalization believing that all occurrences in the world aresame and that nothing can be applied on an individual level. Thirdly,they commonly reject the positive beliefs and attitudes, focusing onthe negative ones. Subsequently, they always concentrate on the worstpossible conclusion to any situation, even though there is neitherevidence nor sense to this form of cognition. Additionally, peoplewho have cognitive distortions are commonly guided by their emotionsrather than logical patterns of thinking, often being prone toignoring the facts, applying harsh labels, both to themselves and toothers. Finally, these individuals are prone to blaming themselvesfor things that they could not possibly change or influence.
Therefore, the methods for cognitivetherapy may range, varying and aligning with the number of cognitivedistortions present. The best way to describe this is through anactual example which follows.
A person was bothered by thoughtsrelated to the fact that no one likes her, especially her boss atwork. Subsequently, she constantly feared her thoughts that her bossis bound to fire her sooner or later and that, due to such pressureand hardships life is equal to hell. Understandably, these thoughtpatterns were setting this person in a world of negativity and lowmood. Fortunately, once cognitive therapy showed this person thebehavioral and thought patterns responsible for her negative mood,she was capable of noticing them when these appeared in her life,avoiding to get affected by them. She stopped jumping to conclusionsand focused on the positive things rather than on the negative,reasonless ones. Logically, this turned her life upside-down, from anegative one to a healthy, productive, happy and creative one.
The problems that cognitive therapy isknown to help people with are depression, anxiety, phobias,problematic relationships, OCD and eating disorders, even though thelist can be expanded, depending on the patient's response to thetreatment. In fact, many experts compare this therapy toanti-depressants, in terms of effectiveness. Yet, cognitive therapyis even better since it results in a much lower occurrence ofrelapses and side-effects, especially when it comes to the treatmentof depression.
To sum up, there are countless ofbehavioral problems you can overcome through cognitive therapy andthis ever-growing and expanding discipline surely has a lot to offerto all people in need.