Two of the earliest forms of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) were rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) created by Albert Ellis in the 1950s and cognitive therapy (CT) developed by Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. REBT focuses on resolving emotional and behavioral problems by identifying one’s general and irrational beliefs such as “I must be perfect”. Albert Ellis believed that each person holds a unique set of assumptions about themselves and the world, and that these assumptions guide each person through life as they determine their own reactions to various situations that life brings. Aaron Beck was a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania when he pioneered CT, or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Beck conducted several experiments to test psychoanalytic concepts of depression. He expected the results of the study would confirm his approach, but he found this wasn’t true. He began to work towards finding other ways to conceptualize depression and, after finding that many people with depression experienced streams of negative thoughts that seemed to arise spontaneously, he labelled them as “automatic thoughts”. He discovered that his patients experienced one or more of three types of automatic thoughts: negative ideas about themselves, the world, or the future.
Beck began working very closely with his patients to help them overcome their negative thoughts by working with them to change their underlying beliefs about themselves and the world around them. When they did this, he noticed they had a long-lasting change. As stated on the Beck Institute’s official website, Dr. Beck then called his approach cognitive therapy and later, cognitive behavioral therapy.
Thousands of studies have been conducted that have proven the effectiveness of this approach. It has been used to help individuals with psychiatric disorders, psychological problems, and medical problems that involve a psychiatric component. If you’ve been struggling with addiction and/or mental illness, CBT is an extremely practical approach to overcoming old, negative thought patterns and progressing to newer, more productive ones. Don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need.
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