Cognitive Therapy: what it is

Cognitive Therapy: what it is

Cognitive Therapy works with thoughts and perceptions. Study and evaluate how these can affect both people's feelings and behavior. After a first analysis, your job is to modify negative thoughts so that the individual can learn more flexible and positive ways of thinking. In this way, they will help you improve your emotional and emotional state.


  • 1 Cognitive Therapy
  • 2 What is Cognitive Therapy?
  • 3 The Cognitive Theory
  • 4 Rational Behavioral Emotional Therapy (TREC)
  • 5 Cognitive Therapy Based on Consciousness

Cognitive Therapy

The origin of this approach lies in a restructuring therapy, Rational Behavioral Emotional Therapy (TREC), which was developed by Albert Ellis in 1955. The basic principles behind cognitive therapy, however, are behind the work of the American psychiatrist. Aaron Beck The identified that the origin of the suffering of his patients in most cases were negative thoughts and unrealistic beliefs.

According to Beck, thoughts, feelings and behaviors are interconnected. By identifying and changing these wrong or distorted thoughts, People can work to overcome their difficulties and fulfill their objectives.

The Cognitive Therapy It involves therapists who work in collaboration with clients to develop skills to identify and replace distorted thoughts and beliefs, ultimately changing the usual behavior associated with them. It usually focuses on the present and is a problem-oriented treatment.

What is Cognitive Therapy?

When people suffer anguish, they often cannot recognize that their thoughts are inaccurate. In these cases, Cognitive Therapy helps identify these thoughts and reassess them. For example, if a person makes a small mistake, he may think: "I'm useless, I can't do anything right". East negative thinking pattern It can trigger a dangerous cycle. A cycle through which the activity in which the error was made is avoided and, in this way, further consolidates the negative behavior.

Addressing and reassessing this pattern of negative thinking, however, paves the way for more flexible ways of thinking, increasing positivity and willingness to take on activities that will test negative beliefs.

The Cognitive Therapy also assumes an approach of skill development, which means that the therapist will help the client learn and practice these skills independently so that he can continue to enjoy the benefits after their sessions have ended.

Cognitive Theory

Aaron Beck is considered the founding father of Cognitive Therapy and his theory and model continues to form the foundation of many approaches to Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy used today.

Working with patients suffering from depression, Beck found that they commonly experience an avalanche of negative thoughts that arose spontaneously. He called this knowledge "automatic thoughts", and discovered that its content classified into three categories:

  1. Negative ideas about themselves
  2. Negative thoughts about the world.
  3. Negative thoughts about the future.

From his studies Beck concluded that the time spent reflecting on this knowledge generally leads patients to treat them as valid. He began helping clients reassess these thoughts so they would think more realistically, which leads to improvements in functionality. emotional and behavioral.

According to Beck, successful interventions occur after educating a person to recognize and be aware of their distorted thinking and test their effects.

Today, Cognitive Therapy is more commonly known as the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), because it is almost exclusively practiced in tandem with behavioral principles - although some therapists continue to offer Cognitive Therapy independently.

This type of therapy is most commonly used for the treatment of anxiety and depression disorders, although it may be appropriate in some other situations where negative thinking patterns have developed.

Rational Behavioral Emotional Therapy (TREC)

Albert Ellis is another therapist who came to conclusions similar to Beck regarding negative beliefs and his tendency to lead to self-destructive / self-sabotage behaviors. In response to his research, Ellis developed a form of Cognitive Therapy known as Rational Behavioral Emotional Therapy (TREC): an action-oriented approach to the management of irrational beliefs and behaviors.

The TREC uses a simple ABC framework that describes the relationship between events, beliefs and consequences:

A) Event activation

The event and our perception of it. For example, an individual who walks the street passes by a friend who does not recognize him and does not greet him. This can be perceived by the individual as being ignored.

B) Beliefs

Our evaluation of the event and our rational or irrational belief in relation to the case, for example:

  • I will finish without friends
  • I am a terrible friend, so you must have a bad concept of me as a person.

C) The consequences

Emotions, behaviors and thoughts caused by the event, for example:

  • Emotions: depressed and alone.
  • Behaviors: Avoid / ignore people.

TREC uses the above framework to help people cope with unhealthy emotions and behaviors, such as those described, and works to identify personal beliefs that often lead to emotional distress so they can be reformulated.

TREC can be effective for the treatment of a number of psychological disorders. You can influence the anxiety disorders and phobias, as well as specific behaviors such as shyness or one constant need for approval.

Cognitive Therapy Based on Consciousness

Cognitive Therapy Based on Consciousness was developed with the aim of reducing relapse and recurrence of depression. The technique uses traditional Cognitive Therapy methods and uses them in conjunction with more recent psychological strategies such as attention and meditation.

The first objective is to educate people about depression. While mindfulness and meditation focus on sensitizing feelings and thoughts to accept them.