Cognitive therapy

From ArticleWorld

Cognitive therapy is a relative newcomer to psychotherapy originating in the 1950’s. It differed from the psychological thought of that time in that it emphasized the importance of thought dictating behaviour rather than emotion. The model of the time was emotion-thought-behaviour whereas cognitive based therapy changed it to thought-emotion-behaviour. In order to change inappropriate or destructive behaviour, it was necessary to change the thought processes that caused it.

Initially, cognitive therapy was seen as different to behavioural therapy which looked at changing the behaviour rather than the thoughts leading to the behaviour, but the two soon merged to become a successful cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT. Mainly by talking to their patients, therapists can teach them to identify and replace unhelpful, irrational thoughts with helpful ones. This is not an easy thing to do however and can only be managed after a substantial time period.


CBT is a very successful method of treating mental disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety disorders, social phobias and depression. Many of these develop because of a feeling of a lack of control over negative thoughts and emotions which are termed ‘cognitive distortions’.Through a process of cognitive restructuring, therapists teach patients how regaining control leads to more positive emotions and so they are able to break out of the self-perpetuating cycle they found themselves in.

Use of medications

The cognitive behavioural analysis system of psychotherapy (CBASP) is a combination of cognitive, behavioural and interpersonal therapies and when combined with the use of anti-depressant drugs has been found to be very effective in the treatment of depression.