Aaron T. Beck

Aaron Temkin Beck (born July 18, 1921) is an American psychiatrist who is professor emeritus in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.[1][2] He is regarded as the father of cognitive therapy,[1][2] and his pioneering theories are widely used in the treatment of clinical depression. Beck also developed self-report measures of depression and anxiety, notably the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) which became one of the most widely used instruments for measuring depression severity.[3]

Beck is noted for his research in psychotherapy, psychopathology, suicide, and psychometrics. He has published more than 600 professional journal articles, and authored or co-authored 25 books.[4] He has been named one of the "Americans in history who shaped the face of American Psychiatry", and one of the "five most influential psychotherapists of all time"[5] by The American Psychologist in July 1989. His work at the University of Pennsylvania inspired Martin Seligman to refine his own cognitive techniques and later work on learned helplessness.[6]

Beck is currently the President Emeritus of the non-profit Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy which he and his psychologist daughter, Judith S. Beck, set up in 1994.[7]

Aaron T. Beck
Aaron Beck 2016
Aaron Temkin Beck

July 18, 1921 (age 97)
ResidencePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma materBrown University, Yale Medical School
Known forhis research on psychotherapy, psychopathology, suicide, and psychometrics
Phyllis W. Beck (m. 1950)
AwardsHeinz Award in the Human Condition (2001)
Grawemeyer Award in Psychology (2004)
Lasker Award (2006)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Pennsylvania, Center for the Treatment and Prevention of Suicide
InfluencedMartin Seligman, Judith S. Beck, David D. Burns

Background and personal life

Beck was born in Providence, Rhode Island, US, the youngest child of four siblings to Russian Jewish immigrants. Beck was married in 1950 to Phyllis W. Beck, who was the first woman judge on the appellate court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[8] They have four adult children: Roy, Judy, Dan, and Alice.[9] Beck's daughter Judith is a prominent cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) educator and clinician, who wrote the basic text in the field. She is President of the non-profit Beck Institute.[10]


Beck attended Brown University, graduating magna cum laude in 1942.[11] At Brown he was elected a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, was an associate editor of The Brown Daily Herald, and received the Francis Wayland Scholarship, William Gaston Prize for Excellence in Oratory, and Philo Sherman Bennett Essay Award.[9] Beck attended Yale Medical School, graduating with an MD in 1946.

He began to specialize in neurology, reportedly liking the precision of its procedures. However, due to a shortage of psychiatry residents he was instructed to do a six-month rotation in that field, and became absorbed in psychoanalysis, despite initial wariness.[12]

Early posts

After completing his medical internships and residencies from 1946 to 1950, Beck became Fellow in psychiatry at the Austen Riggs Center, a private mental hospital in the mountains of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, until 1952. At that time it was a center of ego psychology with unusually cross-disciplinary work between psychiatrists and psychologists, including David Rapaport.

Beck then completed military service as assistant chief of neuropsychiatry at Valley Forge Army Hospital in the United States Military.[13]

Penn psychiatry

Beck then joined the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) in 1954. The department chair was Kenneth Ellmaker Appel, a psychoanalyst who was president of the American Psychiatric Association, whose efforts to expand the presence and connections of psychiatry had a big influence on Beck's career. At the same time, Beck began formal training in psychoanalysis at the Philadelphia Institute of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

Beck's closest colleague was Marvin Stein, a friend since their army hospital days to whom Beck looked up for his scientific rigor in psychoneuroimmunology. Beck's first research was with Leon Saul, a psychoanalyst known for unusual methods such as therapy by telephone or setting homework, who had developed inventory questionnaires to quantify ego processes in the manifest content of dreams (that which can be directly reported by the dreamer). Beck and a graduate student developed a new inventory they used to assess "masochistic" hostility in manifest dreams, published in 1959. This study found themes of loss and rejection related to depression, rather than inverted hostility as predicted by psychoanalysis. Developing the work with NIMH funding, Beck came up with what he would call the Beck Depression Inventory, which he published in 1961 and soon started to market, unsupported by Appel.[14] In another experiment, he found that depressed patients sought encouragement or improvement following disapproval, rather than seeking out suffering and failure as predicted by the Freudian anger-turned-inwards theory.[12]

Through the 1950s, Beck adhered to the department's psychoanalytic theories while developing his experimentation and harboring some private doubts. In 1961, however, controversy over whom to appoint as the new chair of psychiatry—specifically, fierce psychoanalytic opposition to the favored choice of biomedical researcher Eli Robins—brought matters to a head, an early skirmish in a power shift away from psychoanalysis nationally. Beck tried to remain neutral and, with Albert J. Stunkard, opposed a petition to block Robins. Stunkard, a behaviorist who specialized in obesity and who had dropped out of psychoanalytic training, was eventually appointed department head in the face of sustained opposition which again Beck would not engage in, putting him at bitter odds with his friend Stein.[14]

On top of this, despite having graduated from his Philadelphia training, the American Psychoanalytic Institute rejected (deferred) Beck's membership application in 1960, skeptical of his claims of success from relatively brief therapy and advising he conduct further supervised therapy on the more advanced or termination phases of a case, and again in 1961 when he had not done so but outlined his clinical and research work. Such deferments were a tactic used by the Institute to maintain the orthodoxy in teaching, but Beck did not know this at the time and has described the decision as stupid and dumb.[12][14]

Beck usually explains his increasing belief in his cognitive model by reference to a patient he had been listening to for a year at the Penn clinic. When he suggested she was anxious due to her ego being confronted by her sexual impulses, and asked her whether she believed this when she did not seem convinced, she said she was actually worried that she was being boring, and that she thought this often and with everyone.[12][15]

Private practice

Beck requested a sabbatical and would go into private practice for five years.[14]

In 1962, he was already making notes about patterns of thoughts in depression, emphasizing what can be observed and tested by anyone and treated in the present. He strengthened the new alliance with the psychiatrist Stunkard, and extended his links to psychologist colleagues such as Seymour Feshbach and Irving Sigel, thus keeping abreast of developments in cognitive psychology, as he did also from the new Center for Cognitive Science at Harvard University. He was particularly engaged with George Kelly's personal construct theory and Jean Piaget's schemas. Beck's first articles on the cognitive theory of depression, in 1963 and 1964 in the Archives of General Psychiatry, maintained the psychiatric context of ego psychology but then turned to concepts of realistic and scientific thinking in the terms of the new cognitive psychology, extended to become a therapeutic need.[14]

Beck's notebooks were also filled with self-analysis, where at least twice a day for several years he wrote out his own "negative" (later "automatic") thoughts, rated with a percentile belief score, classified and restructured.[14]

The psychologist who would become most important for Beck was Albert Ellis, whose own faith in psychoanalysis had crumbled by the 1950s. He had begun presenting his "rational therapy" by the mid 1950s. Beck recalls that Ellis contacted him in the mid 1960s after his two articles in the Archives of General Psychiatry, and therefore he discovered Ellis had developed a rich theory and pragmatic therapy that he was able to use to some extent as a framework blended with his own, though he disliked Ellis's technique of telling patients what he thought was going on rather than helping the client to learn for themselves empirically.[16] Psychoanalyst Gerald E. Kochansky remarked in 1975 in a review of one of Beck's books that he could no longer tell if Beck was a psychoanalyst or a devotee of Ellis.[14] Beck highlighted the classical philosophical Socratic method as an inspiration, while Ellis highlighted disputation which he stated was not anti-empirical and taught people how to dispute internally.[17] Both Beck and Ellis cited aspects of the ancient philosophical system of stoicism as a forerunner to their ideas, though Ellis wrote more about this; both mistakenly cited Cicero as a stoic.[18]

In 1967, becoming active again at UPenn, Beck still described himself and his new therapy (as he always would quietly[14][19]) as neo-Freudian in the ego psychology school, albeit focused on interactions with the environment rather than internal drives. He offered cognitive therapy work as a relatively "neutral" space and a bridge to psychology. With a monograph on depression that Beck published in 1967, according to historian Rachael Rosner: "Cognitive Therapy entered the marketplace as a corrective experimentalist psychological framework both for himself and his patients and for his fellow psychiatrists."[14]

Cognitive therapy

Working with depressed patients, Beck found that they experienced streams of negative thoughts that seemed to pop up spontaneously. He termed these cognitions "automatic thoughts", and discovered that their content fell into three categories: negative ideas about themselves, the world, and the future. He stated that such cognitions were interrelated as the cognitive triad. Limited time spent reflecting on automatic thoughts would lead patients to treat them as valid.[20]

Beck began helping patients identify and evaluate these thoughts and found that by doing so, patients were able to think more realistically, which led them to feel better emotionally and behave more functionally.[20] He developed key ideas in CBT, explaining that different disorders were associated with different types of distorted thinking.[20] Distorted thinking has a negative effect on a person's behaviour no matter what type of disorder they had, he found.[20] Beck explained that successful interventions will educate a person to understand and become aware of their distorted thinking, and how to challenge its effects.[20] He discovered that frequent negative automatic thoughts reveal a person's core beliefs. He explained that core beliefs are formed over lifelong experiences; we "feel" these beliefs to be true.[20]

Since that time, Beck and his colleagues worldwide have researched the efficacy of this form of psychotherapy in treating a wide variety of disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, drug abuse, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and many other medical conditions with psychological components. Cognitive therapy has also been applied with success to individuals with anxiety disorders, schizophrenia,[21] and many other medical and psychiatric disorders. Some of Beck's most recent work has focused on cognitive therapy for schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and for patients who have had recurrent suicide attempts.

However, some mental health professionals have opposed Beck's cognitive models and resulting therapies as too mechanistic or too limited in which parts of mental activity they will consider. From within the CBT community itself, one line of research using component analyses (dismantling studies) has found that the addition of cognitive strategies often fails to show superior efficacy over behavioral strategies alone, and that attempts to challenge thoughts can sometimes have a rebound effect. Moreover, although Beck's work was presented as a far more scientific and experimentally-based development than psychoanalysis (while being less reductive than behaviourism), Beck's key principles were not necessarily based on the general findings and models of cognitive psychology or neuroscience developing at that time but were derived from personal clinical observations and interpretations in his therapy office. And although there have been many cognitive models developed for different mental disorders and hundreds of outcome studies on the effectiveness of CBT—relatively easy because of the narrow, time-limited and manual-based nature of the treatment—there has been much less focus on experimentally proving the supposedly active mechanisms; in some cases the predicted causal relationships have not been found, such as between dysfunctional attitudes and outcomes.[22]


Beck is involved in research studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and conducts biweekly Case Conferences at Beck Institute for area psychiatric residents, graduate students, and mental health professionals.[23] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.[24]

Beck is the founder and President Emeritus of the non-profit Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, and the director of the Psychopathology Research Center (PRC), which is the parent organization of the Center for the Treatment and Prevention of Suicide.[4] In 1986, he was a visiting scientist at Oxford University.[1]

He has been professor emeritus at Penn since 1992,[4] and an adjunct professor at both Temple University and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.[1]

In recent years, cognitive therapy has been disseminated outside academic settings, including throughout the United Kingdom, and in a program developed by Beck and the City of Philadelphia.[25]


As well as the Beck Depression Inventory, he developed the Beck Hopelessness Scale,[26] Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation (BSS), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), and Beck Youth Inventories.[27]

Beck collaborated with psychologist Maria Kovacs in the development of the Children's Depression Inventory, which used the BDI as a model.[28][29]

Selected awards and honors

Beck has received honorary degrees from Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Assumption College, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.[9][31][32]

In 2017, Beck was named number 4 Most Influential Physician in the Past Century.


Selected books

  • Beck, A.T. (1967). The diagnosis and management of depression. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-7674-4
  • Beck, A.T. (1972). Depression: Causes and treatment. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-7652-7
  • Beck, A.T. (1975). Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8236-0990-1
  • Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York, NY: Guilford Press. ISBN 0-89862-000-7
  • Beck, A.T. (1989). Love is never enough: How couples can overcome misunderstandings, resolve conflicts, and solve relationship problems through cognitive therapy. New York, NY: Harper Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-06-091604-6
  • Scott, J., Williams, J.M., & Beck, A.T. (1989). Cognitive therapy in clinical practice: An illustrative casebook. New York, NY & London, England: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-00518-3
  • Beck, A.T., Wright, F.D., Newman, C.F., & Liese, B.S. (1993). "Cognitive therapy of substance abuse." New York: Guilford Press. ISBN 9781572306592
  • Alford, B.A., & Beck, A.T. (1998). The integrative power of cognitive therapy. New York, NY: Guilford Press. ISBN 1-57230-396-4
  • Beck, A.T. (1999). Prisoners of hate: The cognitive basis of anger, hostility, and violence. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-019377-8
  • Clark, D.A., & Beck, A.T. (1999). Scientific foundations of cognitive theory and therapy of depression. New York, NY: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-18970-7
  • Beck, A.T., Freeman, A., & Davis, D.D. (2003). Cognitive therapy of personality disorders. New York, NY: Guilford Press. ISBN 1-57230-856-7
  • Wright, J.H., Thase, M.E., Beck, A.T., & Ludgate, J.W. (2003). Cognitive therapy with inpatients: Developing a cognitive milieu. New York, NY: Guilford Press. ISBN 0-89862-890-3
  • Winterowd, C., Beck, A.T., & Gruener, D. (2003). Cognitive therapy with chronic pain patients. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8261-4595-7
  • Beck, A.T., Emery, G., & Greenberg, R.L. (2005). Anxiety disorders and phobias: A cognitive perspective. New York, NY: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00587-X
  • Beck, A.T., Rector, N.A., Stolar, N., & Grant, P. (2008). Schizophrenia: Cognitive theory, research, and therapy. New York, NY: Guilford Press. ISBN 978-1-60623-018-3
  • Clark, D.A., & Beck, A.T. (2010). Cognitive therapy of anxiety disorders: Science and practice. New York, NY: Guilford Press. ISBN 978-1-60623-434-1
  • Creed, T., Reisweber, J., & Beck, A.T. (2011). Cognitive therapy for adolescents in school settings. New York: Guildford Press. ISBN 9781609181338
  • Wenzel, A., Liese, B.S., Beck, A.T., Friedman-Wheeler, D. (2012). Group cognitive therapy of addictions. New York: Guildord Press. ISBN 9781462505661

Selected articles

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e 2004 - Aaron Beck Archived June 6, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, The Grawemeyer Awards, Louisville, KY: University of Louisville/Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 2009, Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Aaron Beck bio, The Heinz Awards Undated, Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  3. ^ Beck, A.T.; Ward, C.H.; Mendelson, M.; Mock, J.; Erbaugh, J. (June 1961). "An inventory for measuring depression". Archives of General Psychiatry. 4 (6): 561–571. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1961.01710120031004. PMID 13688369.
  4. ^ a b c "Department of Psychiatry : Aaron T. Beck, M.D." 2017-09-14. Archived from the original on 2017-09-14. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  5. ^ Talbott, J.A. (2002). "Dix Personalité Qui Ont Changé le Visage de la Psychiatric Américaine". L'Information Psychiatrique. 78 (7): 667–675.
  6. ^ Hirtz, R. (1999). Martin Seligman's journey: From learned helplessness to learned happiness, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania, January/February 1999, Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  7. ^ About Beck Institute: Leadership, Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Bala Cynwyd, PA: Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 2014, Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Faculty Details". 2015-09-29. Archived from the original on 2015-09-29. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  9. ^ a b c Aaron T. Beck, M.D., Aaron T. Beck Psychopathology Research Center, Philadelphia, PA: Aaron T. Beck Psychopathology Research Center, 2014, Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  10. ^ Beck Institute leadership, Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Bala Cynwyd, PA: Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 2014, Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  11. ^ Aaron T(emkin) Beck. Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit, Michigan: Gale. 2004.
  12. ^ a b c d Smith, Daniel B. (Autumn 2009). "The doctor is in". The American Scholar. Phi Beta Kappa Society. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  13. ^ [1], 'University of Pennsylvania',Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rosner, RI (2014). "The "Splendid Isolation" of Aaron T. Beck". Isis. 105: 734–58. doi:10.1086/679421. JSTOR 10.1086/679421. PMID 25665381.
  15. ^ Scientist At Work: Aaron T. Beck By ERICA GOODE, NY Times, January 11, 2000
  16. ^ Who Influenced Dr. Aaron Beck's Work? (Students Ask Dr. Beck - Part Two Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, CBT Workshop on Depression and Anxiety for students and post-doctoral fellows, August 15–17, 2011
  17. ^ Rational-emotive therapy and cognitive behavior therapy: Similarities and differences Archived May 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Albert Ellis, Cogn Ther Res (1980) 4: 325. doi:10.1007/BF01178210
  18. ^ Robertson, D (2010). The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy: Stoicism as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy. London: Karnac. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-85575-756-1.
  19. ^ On Therapy-- A Dialogue with Aaron T. Beck and Albert Ellis reported by Michael Fenichel, American Psychological Association, 110th Convention Chicago, August 22–25, 2002
  20. ^ a b c d e f Beck, Aaron (1996). "The Past and the future of Cognitive Therapy" (pdf). Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research. 6 (4): 276–284. PMC 3330473. PMID 9292441. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  21. ^ Successful therapy for cognitive deficits, Schizophrenia.com, 10 September 2004, Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  22. ^ Gaudiano, BA. "Cognitive-behavioural therapies: achievements and challenges". Evid Based Ment Health. 11: 5–7. doi:10.1136/ebmh.11.1.5. PMC 3673298. PMID 18223042.
  23. ^ "World-Class Facilities | Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy". 2012-01-29. Archived from the original on 2012-01-29. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  24. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
  25. ^ Academic partnerships, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, Unknown date.
  26. ^ Beck A.T. (1988). Beck Hopelessness Scale. San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.
  27. ^ "Beck Scales for Adults and Children" Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
  28. ^ Kovacs, M. (1992). Children's Depression Inventory. North Tonawanda, NY: Multi-Health Systems, Inc.
  29. ^ Kovacs, M., & Beck, A.T. (1977). "An empirical-clinical approach toward a definition of childhood depression." In Schulterbrandt, J.G., & Raskin, A. (Eds.). Depression in children: Diagnosis, treatment, and concept models. New York, NY: Raven.
  30. ^ a b c d e "Awards and Honors" (PDF). Penn Psychiatry Perspective (11): 9–10. 2012. Archived from the original (pdf) on March 1, 2014. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  31. ^ "Yale awards nine honorary degrees at 2012 graduation". New Haven, CT: Yale University. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  32. ^ "Beck Research: Biography". 2017-07-08. Archived from the original on 2017-07-08. Retrieved 2018-03-19.

External links

Arbitrary inference

Arbitrary inference is a classic tenet of cognitive therapy created by Aaron T. Beck in 1979. He defines the act of making an arbitrary inference as the process of drawing a conclusion without sufficient evidence, or without any evidence at all. In cases of depression, Beck found that individuals may be more prone to cognitive distortions, and make arbitrary inferences more often. These inferences could be general and or in reference to the effectiveness of their medicine or treatment. Arbitrary inference is one of numerous specific cognitive distortions identified by Beck that can be commonly presented in people with anxiety, depression, and psychological impairments.

Beck Depression Inventory

The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI, BDI-1A, BDI-II), created by Aaron T. Beck, is a 21-question multiple-choice self-report inventory, one of the most widely used psychometric tests for measuring the severity of depression. Its development marked a shift among mental health professionals, who had until then, viewed depression from a psychodynamic perspective, instead of it being rooted in the patient's own thoughts.

In its current version, the BDI-II is designed for individuals aged 13 and over, and is composed of items relating to symptoms of depression such as hopelessness and irritability, cognitions such as guilt or feelings of being punished, as well as physical symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, and lack of interest in sex.There are three versions of the BDI—the original BDI, first published in 1961 and later revised in 1978 as the BDI-1A, and the BDI-II, published in 1996. The BDI is widely used as an assessment tool by health care professionals and researchers in a variety of settings.

The BDI was used as a model for the development of the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI), first published in 1979 by clinical psychologist Maria Kovacs.

Beck Hopelessness Scale

The Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS) is a 20-item self-report inventory developed by Dr. Aaron T. Beck that was designed to measure three major aspects of hopelessness: feelings about the future, loss of motivation, and expectations. The test is designed for adults, age 17–80. It measures the extent of the respondent's negative attitudes, or pessimism, about the future. It may be used as an indicator of suicidal risk in depressed people who have made suicide attempts. The test is multiple choice. It is not designed for use as a measure of the hopelessness construct but has been used as such. Sufficient data about the use of the test with those younger than 17 has not been collected. It may be administered and scored by paraprofessionals, but must be used and interpreted only by clinically trained professionals, who can employ psychotherapeutic interventions. Norms are available for suicidal patients and depressed patients and drug abusers.

Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, a non-profit organization located in suburban Philadelphia, is an international cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) training and resource center. It was founded in 1994 by Aaron T. Beck, MD, and his daughter Judith S. Beck, PhD. Beck Institute offers training in CBT in a variety of forms. Its mission is "improving lives worldwide through excellence in cognitive behavior therapy."Aaron T. Beck is currently Beck Institute's President Emeritus. He is recognized as the founder of cognitive therapy, one of the elements from which cognitive behavior therapy developed. His daughter, Judith Beck, is Beck Institute's current President. Aaron Beck is University Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and continues to do research there, while Judith Beck is a Clinical Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the same university. Lisa Pote, MSW, is Beck Institute's Executive Director, and Allen R. Miller, PhD, MBA is Beck Institute's CBT Program Director.Among Beck Institute's training programs are Philadelphia Workshops held at the Beck Institute, On the Road Workshops held throughout the US, the Beck Institute Supervision program, and Training for Organizations in which Beck faculty travel around the world to teach. Beck Institute's workshops cover a variety of topics, including CBT for Depression, Anxiety, Personality Disorders, Youth, PTSD, Schizophrenia, and more. Beck Institute offers scholarships for therapists working with active duty military and veterans through their Soldier Suicide Prevention initiative and holds an annual scholarship competition for graduate students and faculty.Beck Institute also runs a clinic at its location in suburban Philadelphia.

Clinical pluralism

Clinical pluralism is a term used by some psychotherapists to denote an approach to clinical treatment that would seek to remain respectful towards divergences in meaning-making. It can signify both an undertaking to negotiate theoretical difference between clinicians, and an undertaking to negotiate differences of belief occurring within the therapeutic relationship itself. While the notion of clinical pluralism is associated with the practice of psychotherapy, similar issues have been raised within the field of medical ethics.

Cognitive distortion

A cognitive distortion is an exaggerated or irrational thought pattern involved in the onset and perpetuation of psychopathological states, especially those more influenced by psychosocial factors, such as depression and anxiety. Psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck laid the groundwork for the study of these distortions, and his student David D. Burns continued research on the topic. Burns, in The Feeling Good Handbook (1989), described personal and professional anecdotes related to cognitive distortions and their elimination.

Cognitive distortions are thoughts that cause individuals to perceive reality inaccurately. According to the cognitive model of Beck, a negative outlook on reality, sometimes called negative schemas (or schemata), is a factor in symptoms of emotional dysfunction and poorer subjective well-being. Specifically, negative thinking patterns cause negative emotions. During difficult circumstances, these distorted thoughts can contribute to an overall negative outlook on the world and a depressive or anxious mental state.

Challenging and changing cognitive distortions is a key element of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Cognitive psychology

Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of mental processes such as "attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, creativity, and thinking". Much of the work derived from cognitive psychology has been integrated into various other modern disciplines such as Cognitive Science and of psychological study, including educational psychology, social psychology, personality psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, linguistics, and economics.

Cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapy (CT) is a type of psychotherapy developed by American psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck. CT is one of the therapeutic approaches within the larger group of cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) and was first expounded by Beck in the 1960s. Cognitive therapy is based on the cognitive model, which states that thoughts, feelings and behavior are all connected, and that individuals can move toward overcoming difficulties and meeting their goals by identifying and changing unhelpful or inaccurate thinking, problematic behavior, and distressing emotional responses. This involves the individual working collaboratively with the therapist to develop skills for testing and modifying beliefs, identifying distorted thinking, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors. A tailored cognitive case conceptualization is developed by the cognitive therapist as a roadmap to understand the individual's internal reality, select appropriate interventions and identify areas of distress.

Daniel David

Daniel David (born 23 November 1972) is a Romanian academic. He is "Aaron T. Beck" professor of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at the Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca. He was the head of the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy of the Babeş-Bolyai University between 2007 and 2012. Daniel David is also an adjunct professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and is the head of the Research Program at Albert Ellis Institute in New York. He was born in Satu Mare.

David D. Burns

David D. Burns (born September 19, 1942) is an adjunct professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the author of the best-selling books Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy and The Feeling Good Handbook. Burns popularized Aaron T. Beck's cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) when his book became a best seller during the 1980s.

David M. Clark

David Millar Clark, (born 20 August 1954) is a British psychologist. He has been a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oxford since 2011 and is also National Clinical Adviser at the Department of Health.

His clinical research and practice has mainly focused on developing cognitive models and cognitive therapy for anxiety disorders.

Clark was instrumental, with the economist Richard Layard, in the development and implementation of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme from 2003.

Clark was born in Darlington and studied experimental psychology at Oxford University. He trained as a clinical psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry. He then returned to teach at Oxford University where he became a professor, then returned to the IOP where in 2000 he became head of psychology and founded the centre for anxiety disorders and trauma at the IOP and associated Maudsley Hospital along with fellow Oxford psychologists trauma-specialist Anke Ehlers and OCD-specialist Paul Salkovskis. Clark has won numerous awards in the UK and the USA. His research has focused on panic disorder, hypochondriasis, social phobia and posttraumatic stress disorder. Clark was strongly influenced by the American psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck who made long visits to Oxford University in the 70s and 80s, whose head of psychiatry Michael Gelder strongly believed in cognitive therapy.In 2014, with Layard, he published the book Thrive: The Power of Evidence-Based Psychological Therapies, in which the authors demonstrate the potential value of the wider availability of modern talking therapies.


In cognitive therapy, decatastrophizing or decatastrophization is a cognitive restructuring technique to treat cognitive distortions, such as magnification and catastrophizing, commonly seen in psychological disorders like anxiety and psychosis.The technique consists of confronting the worst-case scenario of a feared event or object, using mental imagery to examine whether the effects of the event or object have been overestimated (magnified or exaggerated) and where the patient's coping skills have been underestimated. The term was coined by Albert Ellis, and various versions of the technique have been developed, most notably by Aaron T. Beck.Decatastrophizing is also called the "what if" technique, because the worst-case scenario is confronted by asking: "What if the feared event or object happened, what would occur then?"

The following is an example:

"I could make an absolute fool of myself if I say the wrong thing."

"What if you say the wrong thing, what would happen then?"

"He might think I'm weird." ...

Edward J. Sachar

Edward Joel Sachar (June 23, 1933 – March 25, 1984) was an American psychiatrist.

He was born on June 23, 1933 to historian Abram L. Sachar. His eldest brother, Howard Sachar, was also a historian. Another sibling, David B. Sachar, is a gastroenterologist. Edward Sachar attended Harvard College, graduating in 1952, then earned a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1956. He held an internship at Beth Israel Hospital before completing his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. Sachar began his academic career at Harvard Medical School, leaving for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1966. He was named full professor in 1972, and joined the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons four years later, as Lawrence C. Kolb Professor of Psychiatry. Sachar had a stroke in 1981, and subsequently retired. He died at the age of 50 on March 25, 1984, at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.The Edward J. Sachar Award conferred by the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons was named for him. Recipients of the prize have included Augustus John Rush and Aaron T. Beck.

Guilford Press

Guilford Publications, Inc. is a New York City-based independent publisher founded in 1973 that specializes in publishing books, journals, and DVDs in psychology, psychiatry, the behavioral sciences, education, and geography. The firm is owned by its two founding partners, president Bob Matloff and editor-in-chief Seymour Weingarten.

History of psychotherapy

Although modern, scientific psychology is often dated at the 1879 opening of the first psychological clinic by Wilhelm Wundt, attempts to create methods for assessing and treating mental distress existed long before. The earliest recorded approaches were a combination of religious, magical and/or medical perspectives. Early examples of such psychological thinkers included Patañjali, Padmasambhava, Rhazes, Avicenna and Rumi (see Islamic psychology and Eastern philosophy and clinical psychology).

In an informal sense, psychotherapy can be said to have been practiced through the ages, as individuals received psychological counsel and reassurance from others. Purposeful, theoretically-based psychotherapy was probably first developed in the Middle East during the 9th century by the Persian physician and psychological thinker, Rhazes, who was at one time the chief physician of the Baghdad bimaristan. In the West, however, serious mental disorders were generally treated as demonic or medical conditions requiring punishment and confinement until the advent of moral treatment approaches in the 18th century. This brought about a focus on the possibility of psychosocial intervention - including reasoning, moral encouragement and group activities - to rehabilitate the "insane".

In the 19th century, one could have his or her head examined, literally, using phrenology, the study of the shape of the skull developed by respected anatomist Franz Joseph Gall. Other popular treatments included physiognomy—the study of the shape of the face—and mesmerism, developed by Franz Anton Mesmer—designed to relieve psychological distress by the use of magnets. Spiritualism and Phineas Quimby's "mental healing" technique that was very like modern concept of "positive visualization" were also popular.

While the scientific community eventually came to reject all of these methods, academic psychologists also were not concerned with serious forms of mental illness. That area was already being addressed by the developing fields of psychiatry and neurology within the asylum movement and the use of moral therapy. It wasn't until the end of the 19th century, around the time when Sigmund Freud was first developing his "talking cure" in Vienna, that the first scientifically clinical application of psychology began—at the University of Pennsylvania, to help children with learning disabilities.

Although clinical psychologists originally focused on psychological assessment, the practice of psychotherapy, once the sole domain of psychiatrists, became integrated into the profession after the Second World War. Psychotherapy began with the practice of psychoanalysis, the "talking cure" developed by Sigmund Freud. Soon afterwards, theorists such as Alfred Adler and Carl Jung began to introduce new conceptions about psychological functioning and change. These and many other theorists helped to develop the general orientation now called psychodynamic therapy, which includes the various therapies based on Freud's essential principle of making the unconscious conscious.

In the 1920s, behaviorism became the dominant paradigm, and remained so until the 1950s. Behaviorism used techniques based on theories of operant conditioning, classical conditioning and social learning theory. Major contributors included Joseph Wolpe, Hans Eysenck, and B.F. Skinner. Because behaviorism denied or ignored internal mental activity, this period represents a general slowing of advancement within the field of psychotherapy.Wilhelm Reich began to develop Body psychotherapy in the 1930s.

Starting in the 1950s, two main orientations evolved independently in response to behaviorism—cognitivism and existential-humanistic therapy. The humanistic movement largely developed from both the Existential theories of writers like Rollo May and Viktor Frankl (a less well known figure Eugene Heimler) and the Person-centered psychotherapy of Carl Rogers. These orientations all focused less on the unconscious and more on promoting positive, holistic change through the development of a supportive, genuine, and empathic therapeutic relationship. Rollo May, Carl Rogers, and Irvin Yalom acknowledge the influence of Otto Rank (1884-1939), Freud's acolyte, then critic.

During the 1950s, Albert Ellis developed the first form of cognitive behavioral therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and few years later Aaron T. Beck developed cognitive therapy. Both of these included therapy aimed at changing a person's beliefs, by contrast with the insight-based approach of psychodynamic therapies or the newer relational approach of humanistic therapies. Cognitive and behavioral approaches were combined during the 1970s, resulting in Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Being oriented towards symptom-relief, collaborative empiricism and modifying core beliefs, this approach has gained widespread acceptance as a primary treatment for numerous disorders.

Since the 1970s, other major perspectives have been developed and adopted within the field. Perhaps the two biggest have been Systems Therapy—which focuses on family and group dynamics—and Transpersonal psychology, which focuses on the spiritual facet of human experience. Other important orientations developed in the last three decades include Feminist therapy, Somatic Psychology, Expressive therapy, and applied Positive psychology. Clinical psychology in Japan developed towards a more integrative socially-orientated counseling methodology. Practice in India developed from both traditional metaphysical and ayurvedic systems and Western methodologies.Since 1993, the American Psychological Association Division 12 Task Force has created and revised a list of empirically supported psychological treatments for specific disorders. The Division 12 standards are based on 7 "essential" criteria for research quality, such as randomization and the use of validated psychological assessments. In general, cognitive behavioral treatments for psychological disorders have received greater support than other psychotherapeutic approaches. Passionate debate among clinical scientists and practitioners about the superiority of evidence-based practices is ongoing, and some have presented correlational data that indicate that most of the major therapies are about of equal effectiveness and that the therapist, client, and therapeutic alliance account for a larger portion of client improvement from psychotherapy. While many Ph.D. training programs in clinical psychology have taken a strong empirical approach to psychotherapy that has led to a greater emphasis on cognitive behavioral interventions, other training programs and psychologists are now adopting an eclectic orientation. This integrative movement attempts to combine the most effective aspects of all the schools of practice.

List of psychological schools

The psychological schools are the great classical theories of psychology. Each has been highly influential; however, most psychologists hold eclectic viewpoints that combine aspects of each school.

Mastery and pleasure technique

The mastery and pleasure technique is a method of cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of depression. Aaron T. Beck described this technique first. The technique is useful when patients are active, but have no pleasure. The patients shall rate on a 5-point-scale (or a 10-point-scale) how much pleasure they have and how successful they are when they do something. The patients record this hourly.

The patients shall learn "to recognize partial successes and small degrees of pleasure" because depressive patients tend to the cognitive distortion of all-or-nothing thinking.

The patients can also learn that Mastery and Pleasure are independent. By the combination of rating mastery and pleasure unrealistic ideas like "Life should be all fun" or "The only thing worth spending time on is work to accomplish things." can be challenged.

Lewinsohn has the theory that patients need reinforcers to feel good. The idea is that patients can get reinforcers from activities, but they "want to wait for their mood to lighten before engaging in activities." So Beck asks clients to perform activities as a behavioral experiment. The patients can then increase systematically the activities with higher ratings of mastery and pleasure and look for new activities.

Mode deactivation therapy

Mode deactivation therapy (MDT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors and cognitive processes and contents through a number of goal-oriented, explicit systematic procedures. The name refers to the process of mode deactivation that is based on the concept of cognitive modes as introduced by Aaron T. Beck. The MDT methodology was developed by Jack A. Apsche by combining the unique validation–clarification–redirection (VCR) process step with elements from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and mindfulness to bring about durable behavior change.

Society for Psychotherapy Research

The Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR) is a learned society founded in 1970. It is multidisciplinary, international association for research into psychotherapy. The idea of an international society of psychotherapists was discussed at an annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in 1968.The Society has chapters in the United Kingdom, the rest of Europe, Latin America, and North America. The Society for Psychotherapy Research also has what it describes as "Area groups" in Australia, Italy, and other specific locations.The academic journal of the Society for Psychotherapy Research, Psychotherapy Research, is published bi-monthly by Routledge.


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