Cognitive psychology is responsible for studying internal mental processes, everything that happens inside our brain, including perception, thinking, memory, attention, language, problem solving and learning.
While it is a relatively young branch of psychology, it has grown rapidly to become one of the most popular and widely used subfields today.
- 1 Brief history of Cognitive Psychology
- 2 Computational metaphor of cognitive theory
- 3 Applications of Cognitive Psychology
- 4 Clinical Applications of Cognitive Psychology
- 5 Cognitive Psychology and Mental Health
Brief history of Cognitive Psychology
Albert Ellis presented for the first time his rational approach to therapy at the 1957 convention of the American Psychological Association. Despite learning and practicing various forms of psychoanalytic treatment, Ellis was not satisfied with the lack of efficiency and effectiveness of the classic analysis of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Although Ellis agreed with Freud that unconscious forces can have significant effects on a person's thoughts and behaviors, he thought they were not due to early childhood conflicts. According to Ellis, who had witnessed numerous therapies, although the person managed to have a great understanding of their childhood experiences and unconscious processes, their problematic state continued. For this reason Ellis decided to directly challenge the apparently irrational belief system of people, and encouraged individuals to actively work against their unrealistic premises.
Almost at the same time, Aaron Beck was developing his own approach to therapy. Like Ellis, Beck was a student of the psychoanalytic approach. Evidence of his experimental work on dreams and ideational material, however, led Beck away from psychoanalysis to formulate a cognitive theory. Beck discovered that by training people in therapy to learn to analyze and test their maladaptive thoughts, their attitudes and emotions improved.
Cognitive therapy drew attention in the psychological community around the world and caused great research efforts. As the approach incorporated various behavioral elements into their usual practice, the highly valued Cognitive Behavioral Therapy emerged.
In addition to Ellis and Beck, it should be noted that several other people made counting contributions to the development and global recognition of CBT. Some of these contributors include Maxie Maultsby, Michael Mahoney, Donald Meichenbaum, David Burns, Marsha Linehan, and Arthur Freeman.
Computational metaphor of cognitive theory
The "computational metaphor of the mind" of cognitive theory describes the human mind as a computer-like information processor, which analyzes the functional operations of the mind and is able to elaborate its hypotheses based on the causal stimuli.
Following this, the "computational theory of the mind", which tries to interpret the systemic patterns of the human mind. Fodor and Garrett (1975) claimed that neural systems seem to have innate representations that refer to the property of thinking. The mind is considered to be an information processing system that works similarly to the way a computer does. The computer organization of the short term memory, for example, would be something similar to the central processing unit (CPU), while the long memory It would be similar to the hard drive of a modern PC.
Applications of Cognitive Psychology
There are numerous practical applications of this cognitive discipline, such as providing tools to improve memory, which helps people recover after a brain injury and offers effective treatments to improve learning disorders.
Learning how people think and process information not only helps researchers gain a deeper understanding of how the human brain works, but allows them develop new ways to help people deal with psychological difficulties. The findings of cognitive psychology have also improved our understanding of how people form, store and retrieve their memories.
By having more knowledge about how these processes work, psychologists can develop new ways to help people improve their memories or fight against possible memory problems.
Clinical Applications of Cognitive Psychology
Numerous cognitive psychologists work in the clinical branch, dealing directly with people who are experiencing problems related to mental processes.
Cognitive psychologists focus on thoughts, perceptions, learning processes and memory. Some work directly on pathologies related to cognition, such as degenerative disorders of the brain or brain lesions.
They also work on cognitive disorders that can create discomfort in several areas of an individual's life. Sometimes negative thinking can seriously interfere with health and happiness.
We all experience these negative thoughts from time to time, but some people may be overwhelmed by pessimistic thought patterns that make it really difficult for them to function in daily life. These catastrophic reflections can lead to increased levels of stress, pessimism, and self-sabotage, and may even contribute to feelings of learned helplessness.
With the help of cognitive psychologists, people may be able to find ways to cope and even overcome these difficulties. Therapy treatments focus on helping people change these negative thinking patterns and replace them with more positive and realistic ones.
Cognitive Psychology and Mental Health
Thanks to research in this area, they have been developed new treatment approaches to help treat depression, anxiety, phobias and other psychological disorders.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Emotional Rational Therapy are two methods in which clients and therapists focus on the underlying cognitions that contribute to psychological distress. Thanks to these therapies, psychologists can help clients identify the irrational beliefs and other cognitive distortions They are in conflict with reality and then help them replace those ideas with the most realistic and healthy beliefs.