Cognitive and Behavioral Theories Essay

Cognitive and Behavioral Theories Essay

Cognitive and Behavioral Theories Essay

The Cognitive-Behavioral theory is a form of short-term therapy used by counselors in the psychology and social work fields. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) encourages a blending of behavioral and cognitive therapy models. The theory is based in the belief that the client’s behaviors and feelings are heavily influenced by their thoughts..Cognitive and Behavioral Theories Essay A CBT therapist plays an active role in helping the client prioritize their problems, recognize the maladaptive thoughts that are behind their problems and feelings, and devise and implement goal-oriented changes in their thinking.


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) places significant importance on how negative thinking impacts our emotions and behaviors. Dr. Aaron Beck observed that many of his clients had ‘automatic thoughts’ – “emotion-filled thoughts that might pop up in the mind” (Martin, 2007). Many of these thoughts are not consciously known to the client; however through practice the client can learn to identify the negative and irrational thought. Upon identification the client can then learn to overcome the thoughts. “CBT is based on a model or theory that it’s not events themselves that upset us, but the meanings we give them” (Martin, 2007). These ‘automatic thoughts’ can cause us to become blind to new ideas and have the ability to overcome obstacles. A person’s ‘automatic thoughts’ are rooted in belief systems that were embedded in their subconscious from childhood. When an event happens a person uses these belief systems to help them cope with their difficulties. If there is negative thinking in the person’s belief system, they are more likely to misconstrue the event or issue as too difficult to handle.

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Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy focuses on people’s thoughts and how they affect their emotional, behavioral, and physiological reactions to stressful situations. People often have difficulty thinking rationally when feeling pressured by disturbing life experiences. Through cognitive therapy, clients are able to identify and challenge their thoughts about themselves, the people around them, and the world around them..Cognitive and Behavioral Theories Essay

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy in its most basic state is the encouragement of “clients to engage in adaptive behaviors and not to allow pathological internal experiences to dictate the ways in which they act” (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, 2012). Solutions under the behavioral theory closely follow Pavlov’s classical and operant conditioning philosophies. A client’s negative responses to normal stimuli are typically learned behaviors, because something negative happened the last time the stimulus was present. Through a process called extinction, therapists often try to change a client’s negative responses by showing the client that the negative result does not always occur with the stimulus. Using operant conditioning a client will be more likely to engage in activities and behaviors in a positive manner, if they have previously received positive outcomes. If the consequences of their behavior have been negative, they are less like to repeat that behavior..Cognitive and Behavioral Theories Essay

Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

One form of behavioral therapy, founded in the 1950s by Albert Ellis, was Rational-Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). REBT focuses on the “client’s current, irrational thoughts… and actively targets them for change” (Fraum, 2012). Through REBT the client confronts their irrational beliefs and expectations. After confrontation, the client and therapist are able to develop realistic thinking. Only after these two things are accomplished is the client able to change. “Epictetus wrote in The Enchiridion, “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them” (National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, 2008).

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Another behavioral therapy that is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy is Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Based heavily in philosophy, the main tenet of this therapy looks at two opposing views and works through the therapeutic relationship to blend them together to find a ‘happy medium’..Cognitive and Behavioral Theories Essay The counselor does not make the client feel that their thoughts are invalid or incorrect, but guides them to understanding that their behavior needs to change. This therapy is most often used for clients who have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2012)

Commonalities of Cognitive Therapy and Behavioral Therapy

Although there are a few differences between cognitive and behavioral approaches, there are some similarities that allow these two methods to be blended into the cognitive-behavioral approach. In CBT, the client and the therapist work together as a team to help the client overcome their troubles. Often CBT is a short-term counseling method that, typically, only lasts a few months, but it is also a rigorous therapy, in that the clients must utilize their new skills in between sessions through ‘homework’. CBT therapists seldom dig deeply into why a client is having the irrational thoughts, but rather stay focused in the present and future. (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, 2012).Cognitive and Behavioral Theories Essay

Cognitive behavioral therapy commonly known as CBT is a systematic process by which we learn to change our negative thoughts into more positive ones. CBT is a combination of two types of therapy, Cognitive Therapy and Behavioral Therapy. Cognition is our thoughts, so cognitive behavioral therapy combines working with our thought process and changing our behavior at the same time. Cognitive behavioral therapists believe that our behavior and our feelings are influenced by the way we think; also our mood is affected by our behavior and thought process. So CBT tries to tackle our thoughts, feelings and behavior. Scientific research has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy is affective for a wide range of mental health problems. The purpose …show more content…


In the 1960s and 1970s the role of cognition was being reconsidered in psychiatric disorders..Cognitive and Behavioral Theories Essay Cognitive theories became more popular in response to behaviorist failure to take feelings and thoughts into consideration. Aaron Beck, an American psychiatrist, is considered one of the most influential people in modern cognitive psychology. He is widely regarded as the father of cognitive therapy. Although rapidly moving forwarded, the cognitive movement did not reject behavioral principles. However, it did merge the two, which is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that Aaron Beck developed in the 1960s. Cognitive therapy is both social and psychological therapy that assumes faulty thought patterns know as cognitive patterns, to cause maladaptive emotional and behavioral responses. This therapy focuses on changing a patient thought process in order to solve psychological problems. Behavioral therapy takes a therapeutic approach, treating emotional behavior with maladaptive learned responses that can be changed with healthier ones. Cognitive behavioral therapy combines techniques of behavior modification into a cognitive reconstructive approach. Beck combined his own understanding and observation of schema with Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis to further develop the cognitive behavioral theory.Cognitive and Behavioral Theories Essay
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