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Cognitive therapyCognitive therapy or cognitive behavior therapy is a kind of psychotherapy used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, and other forms of psychological disorder. It involves recognising distorted thinking and learning to replace it with more realistic substitute ideas. Its practitioners hold that the cause of many (though not all) depressions are irrational thoughts. Cognitive therapy is often used in conjunction with mood stabilizing medications to treat bipolar disorder.
Cognitive therapy is not an overnight process. Even once a patient has learnt to recognise when and where his thought processes are going awry, it can take months of concerted effort to replace an invalid thought with a more suitable one. But with patience and a good therapist, cognitive therapy can be a valuable tool in recovery.
Negative thinking in depression can result from biological sources (i.e., endogenous depression), modeling from parents, or other sources. The depressed person experiences negative thoughts as being beyond their control. The cognitive therapist provides techniques to give the client a greater degree of control than ever before.
Negative thoughts in depression are generally about one of three areas: negative view of self, negative view of the world, and negative view of the future. This composes the cognitive triad.
A major technique in cognitive therapy is the four column technique. It consists of a four step process. The first three steps analyze the process by which a person has become depressed or distressed. The first column records the objective situation. In the second column, the client writes down the negative thoughts which occurred to them. The third column is for the negative feelings and dysfunctional behaviors which ensued. The negative thoughts of the second column are seen as a connecting bridge between the situation and the distressing feelings. Finally, the fourth column is used for challenging the negative thoughts on the basis of evidence from the client's experience.
A sub-field of cognitive behavior therapy used to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder makes use of classical conditioning through extinction and habituation. Such a procedure has been used successfully by Dr. Steven Phillipson to treat OCD. CBT has also been successfully applied to the treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder.
While the cognitive therapist view of emotion has existed for millennia, cognitive therapy was developed in its present form by Albert Ellis and Aaron T. Beck in the 1950s and 1960s. It rapidly became a favorite intervention to study in psychotherapy research in academic settings. In initial studies it was often contrasted with behavioral treatments to see which was most effective. However, in recent years, cognitive and behavioral techniques have often been combined into cognitive behavioral treatment. This is arguably the primary type of psychological treatment being studied in research today.
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