CBT treatment employs the use of behavioral and cognitive ideologies. The way people behave and perceive things is greatly influenced by their cognitions. For instance, people can be sad, angry, or anxious if they think they have reasons to feel so. Based on the concept, psychiatrists have argued that our perceptions and not our situations determine our emotions (Chung, Yoon, Park, Yang & Oh, 2013). The cognitive evaluation of a circumstance or an incident determines our reactions to it. Presently, the use of CBT therapy is on the increase. Globally, major mental health hospitals have adopted the therapy (Bradley, Whiting, Hendricks, Parr, & Jones, 2008). CBT theory is preferred over other counseling theories because of its effectiveness and affordability. Currently, researchers and therapists have ensured that the approach meets the ultimate goals of improving patients’ lives through ethical, accessible, and effective ways (Mor & Haran, 2009).
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History of the theory
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been developed over time to become a broad-based and integrative theory in many areas of the therapeutic practice. Greek Stoic philosopher was the first to mention the use of rational emotive therapy in the year 55 AD (Robertson, 2010). Later on at 121 AD, Marcus asserted that human problems are caused by our own judgments and not caused by the deities. Other CBT pioneers include Burrhus Skinner, Albert Bandura, Ivan Pavlock, and Joseph Wolpe (Robertson, 2010). Pavlock, noted that dogs salivate before being fed. Pavlov attributed this behavior to the dog’s abilities to relate being fed and the environmental cues.
Through this, Pavloc concluded that all learning processes are related to the environmental conditions. On the other hand, Skinner became famous following his experiments and analysis on operant conditioning. Skinner suggested that through operant conditioning, behaviors could be altered by changing their penalties. Through laboratory researches, skinner identified how operant conditioning affected ideal communities.
Alternatively, Bandura pioneered the use of social cognitive theory in psychoanalysis (Robertson, 2010). Through his writings, Bandura emphasized the usefulness of thoughts, emotions, and images in psychological evaluations. In general, Bandura’s theory suggests that individuals gain knowledge by observing others. Bandura noted that learning could be broken down into four fundamental functions: motivation, motor reproduction, attention, and retention. Bandura believed that through attention people should recognize what they are watching from other individuals. Similarly, through retention processes individuals must remember what they had observed from other individuals. Equally, through motor reproduction processes individuals must be able to translate what they had observed and what they remember into actions. Wolpe became the first person to develop a systematic desensitization process (Robertson, 2010). In this process, patients are helped to deal with their anxiety disorders.
In the early 1950s, Dr. Aaron Beck and Dr. Albert Ellis became very popular in the field of psychiatry following the CBT approaches they had developed (Robertson, 2010). Their approaches were developed to encourage patients to think logically and to feel psychologically better. The two doctors were actively involved in clinical psychology and psychiatry. As psychiatrists, the two questioned some basic hypotheses in psychotherapy. Convinced that human problems are best tackled through human solutions, the two psychiatrists began to treat psychological disorders using CBT approaches. Ellis developed his approach after being disappointed by the way the past psychoanalysis were being solved. In the year 1962, Ellis developed a model called ABC model (Robertson, 2010). In the model, A stood for antecedent event, while B stood for belief. Similarly, the word C stood for consequences.
Through this model, Ellis argued that if cognition were deficient in the center of a person’s awareness, he or she would find difficulties in recognizing it. As such, this implies that people have to be careful to recognize the sequence of their events and response to them. Ellis further stated that CBT diagnosis often requires the patient to act as a detective to identify, and diagnose his or her psychological disorders. Ellis referred to his concepts as self-statements. He argues that self-statements determine the way individuals interpret actions in the contemporary world. Equally, Ellis argued that emotions and behaviors are triggered based on perceptions of particular events.
Unlike Ellis, Beck referred to his concepts as automatic thoughts (Robertson, 2010). During his studies, Beck observed that most of his patients depicted internal dialogue. Through this, Beck postulated that there existed a bond between feelings and thoughts. Beck suggested that most people are not fully aware of their emotion-filled thoughts. He argued that people could learn to recognize and report these thoughts. In line with Becks ideologies, Psychiatrists argue that thoughts are not necessarily generated without prior reasoning (Robertson, 2010). Despite their distinctive similarities, Beck and Ellis developed their approaches independently.
The fundamental concept behind their approaches is that distorted cognition is at the center of psychological challenges. The conditions are believed to be distorted due to the misinterpretations and misperceptions of events and situations. Beck and Ellis observed unique patterns of psychological symptoms, emotional distress, and dysfunctional behaviors.
Types of problems solved by the theory
Since its adoption, in psychiatry, CBT has been widely studied, and proved useful in the treatment of numerous psychological disorders (Spector et al., 2012). The approach is used in the treatment of numerous psychological disorders such as anger, nervousness, and substance abuse. Through this approach, patients are helped to detect irrationality and rigidity in their thoughts. With the use of this approach, patients are encouraged to think positively and change their unconstructive behaviors. The fundamental concept behind the effectiveness of CBT is its simplicity. Currently, psychologists are conducting more than 500 studies to ascertain its effectiveness. Numerous researches are ongoing to develop cognitive therapies used in treatment of suicide avoidance and schizophrenia. Psychiatrists claim that ongoing researches are aimed at evaluating the effects of cognitive therapy in public health systems.
Strengths of the theory
As indicated above, CBT has a number of advantages. Different from other theories, the concept is open to amendments. The theory can be enhanced to avoid uncertain refutations. The theory can be recurrently advanced to fit every condition. Through this, counselors can openly recommend, test, re-examine, amend, reject, and generate new formulations based on the theory. An additional advantage of cognitive behavioral therapy is that its principles are based on practical research evidence. Psychology specialists have developed and reviewed the approach for over a very long time. Contrasting other theories, the theory has been evaluated in laboratories for more than 400 times (Robertson, 2010). The theory does not only rely on the hypothetical assumptions, but also on experimental studies.
Unlike other psychological therapies, this approach makes use of a few theoretical and experimental constructs. Because of its features, clients and counselors can review the approach with ease. Compared to other therapies, the approach has numerous advantages. In addition, it is suggested that the therapy manages a number of psychological disorders unmanaged by other therapies.
Weaknesses of the theory
Despite its effectiveness in the treatment of several psychological disorders, several critics have over criticized CBT. Critics claim that the approach has a distinctive procedure for administering treatments (Mor & Haran, 2009). As a result, the critics argue that not all patients, problems, or symptoms can be accounted for using a single approach. Another weakness of the CBT formulation approach is its ability to be influenced by therapists’ prejudices and biases. During the assessment sessions, a therapist can develop theoretical concepts with little empirical support. In such circumstances, the assessment will add little or no value to the client.
Critics have also opposed the CBT concept for ignoring the usefulness of an individual unconscious process. In turn, critics argue that equal weight need to be directed at individuals’ conscious and unconscious processes for better treatments. In addition, CBT has been criticized for its dependence on basic entities such as beliefs and desires. Many psychologists have criticized the reliance on these entities in psychology. Several critics have alleged that the entities are not necessary in psychology.
It should be noted that CBT therapy like most psychological therapies has detailed steps to be followed for effective treatment. In this regard, clients should understand the effectiveness of their treatment depends on their association with the therapists. As a result, therapists are advised to form strong connections with their patients to motivate their levels of concentrations. For instance, when therapists are treating clients with anxiety disorder, they usually experience several challenges from these clients. When treating anxiety disorders, therapists are required to advise their clients on various ways of confronting the vice. However, in the process of these assessments patients tend to feel more anxious.
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Another major weakness of cognitive behavior therapy is its continuing doubts about its clinical significance. Critics argue that the approach’s effectiveness has been overemphasized based on its laboratory success, rather than on clinical success. The opponents noted that there are a few cases where the approach’s effectiveness has been based on the contemporary situations. As a result, the critics suggest that those advocating for the approach should provide substantial evidence on the approach’s effectiveness based on the contemporary clinical trials.
Although the CBT approach is believed to be comprised of distinctive structured approaches, it has received numerous criticisms for its generalized concepts. Most CBT psychiatrists are expected to be informed on how their clients will respond to their sessions. This assumption has been contentious since most clients will respond differently to the therapy. Critics have suggested that the assumption should be abolished. In turn, psychiatrists should let common sense to determine how clients respond to the therapies. It is argued that through their common sense clients will discover new behaviors and ways of thinking after the treatment (Robertson, 2010).
Unlike other psychological approaches, cognitive behavioral therapy is a dominant tool in psychiatry. Since its adoption, in psychiatry, CBT has been widely studied, and proved useful in the treatment of numerous psychological disorders (Corey & Bludworth, 2009). The approach is used in the treatment of numerous psychological disorders such as anger, nervousness, and substance abuse. There are several strengths of the approach. Compared to other therapies, the therapy is open to amendments. The theory can be enhanced to avoid uncertain refutations. The theory can be recurrently advanced to fit every condition. Through this, counselors can openly recommend, test, re-examine, amend, reject, and generate new formulations based on the theory. An additional advantage of cognitive behavioral therapy is that its principles are based on practical research evidence (Mor & Haran, 2009).
Despite its effectiveness in the treatment of several psychological disorders, CBT has been over criticized by several critics. Critics claim that the approach has a distinctive procedure for administering treatments (Corey & Bludworth, 2009). To reduce its criticisms, more researches need to be done on the approach. Through these investigations, more attention should be focused on the issues criticized by the opponents. As such, the researchers should major on eliminating biases and prejudices associated with the therapists. Similarly, the researchers should get rid of unnecessary assumptions, and develop a clear understanding between psychology and cognitive science.
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