Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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Ellis (1993) writes of how there is an inner conflict in all people. Humans have an ability to create, develop, and actualize themselves as healthy goal-attaining people. However, this being said they also have an ability to structure irrational thinking, inappropriate emotions and dysfunctional behaviours (Nelson-Jones 1995). Each person on this earth has their own internal storage device for gathering thoughts, ideas, beliefs, memories, the list goes on. A persons mind can affect them in so many ways that can’t be seen from the external perspective people take of them. When a person is experiencing difficulty trying to comprehend what it is exactly that is going on in their head they may approach it in a number of different ways, such as talking to a family member or close friend or perhaps seeking help from professionals who may be able to guide them in the right direction. The latter can sometimes prove to be extremely difficult for some people as they may have prefabricated negative beliefs about seeking such help and may not be open to the idea at all. Patients of psychotherapy can be looked at through a number of different approaches. One such approach that will be focused on throughout this essay is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Different from the many other forms of psychotherapy cognitive behaviour therapy has been proved scientifically to be effective in hundreds of clinical trials for many different disorders. (Beck 2013). This particular approach is generally more focused on the present whereas other approaches taken can be more orientated towards looking into the past of the client. Cognitive behavioural therapy therefore focuses with the current issues and problems of the client. It is usually more problem-solving orientated and more restricted by the amount of time limited to treatment. A bonus of effective cognitive behavioural therapy is that patients will develop skills that will aid them to; identify distorted thinking; modify their beliefs; relate to others in different ways, and change their behaviour. These skills can be useful not just after therapy but for the rest of their lives (Beck website). However, by failing to consider the past experiences of a person and only focusing on the here and now can this approach to therapy not have negative consequences towards the thinking or behaviour of a person also? What happens in peoples past can surely have some form of effect on how that person is thinking or behaving in the present. The purpose of this essay is therefore to consider some of the many aspects of cognitive behavioural therapy, outline the main principles and techniques of this approach to psychotherapy. It will also look to provide any criticisms that can be seen from the literature about this practice. To grasp a better understanding of cognitive behavioural therapy a brief historical overview will be given along with an overview of the approach itself and the main contributors to this practice of psychotherapy. Ultimately CBT could be seen to have developed as a result of two revolutions within the field of psychology, the behavioural revolution and the cognitive revolution. The former occurred first around the 1940’s when a group of psychologists who had been influenced by the work of Ivan Pavlov set out to redefine psychology as the science of behaviour (Miller 2003). Miller (2003) then goes on to explain how by the mid 1950’s it was the belief that behaviourism would not succeed and if scientific psychology were to succeed, mentalistic concepts would have to integrate and explain the behavioural data. Miller stresses the point of 1956 being the year for the cognitive science for him personally. However it is clear from the literature that it was the approaches of Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck that formulated the most prominent theories and models within the school of CBT (Nelson-Jones 1995). The two schools had gathered momentum and by the 1980’s they had merged together to form...
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