Beck’s cognitive therapy - Disordered Minds

30-Second Psychology: The 50 Most Thought-provoking Psychology Theories, Each Explained in Half a Minute - Christian Jarrett 2011

Beck’s cognitive therapy
Disordered Minds

As a young psychiatrist, Aaron Beck trained as a Freudian psychoanalyst but began asking the one question that has come to define cognitive therapy: ’What’s the evidence for that?’ Before Beck, psychotherapy was more philosophy than science, with innovations being based on personal insight and the influence of ’big thinkers’. Beck’s innovation was to develop cognitive therapy on the basis of scientific studies that tested out common assumptions. This ’testing out’ approach is also recommended to patients as the treatment is based on the idea — and, in fact, the evidence — that mental illness involves biases in how we perceive, act and think about the world — some of which can be seen in the thoughts that pass through our minds and some of which we might not be aware of. For example, someone suffering from depression might tend to interpret everyday disappointments as a sign that they are ’worthless’ while someone with a fear of embarrassing themselves in public might avoid social gatherings and so never learn that their worry is unrealistic. A cognitive therapist will work with the client to identify where their thinking and behaviour prevents them from getting better and will help develop strategies to overcome these problems, each of which is tested to see if it helps.


Mental illness involves self-defeating habits of thinking that distort how we make sense of the world. Cognitive therapy allows us to detect these patterns and use alternatives.


In his early work, Beck had an unfortunate tendency to refer to more ’rational’ ways of thinking, rather than more helpful ways, and this has come under criticism, as ’rationality’ is a logical ideal that we don’t need in order to be mentally healthy. Furthermore, the style of cognitive therapy doesn’t suit everyone and so it is important to find a type of therapy that suits a person’s personal preferences.







Vaughan Bell


Cognitive behavorial therapy helps the patient to understand and break thought patterns that trigger many psychological disorders.