Brief history of the theory and theorist. In it’s simplest form, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, (or CBT as it will be referred to from here on out), refers to the approach of changing dysfunctional behaviors and thoughts to realistic and healthy ones. CBT encompasses several types of therapy focusing on the impact of an individual’s thinking as it relates to expressed behaviors. Such models include rational emotive therapy (RET), rational emotive behavioral therapy (REST), behavior therapy (ST), Rational Behavior Therapy (RBT),
Schema Focused Therapy, Cognitive therapy (CT). Most recently a few other variations have been linked to CBT such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT), and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) (Harrington and Pickles, 2009). The main aspect that all of these branches of therapy share, is that our thoughts relate to our external behaviors. External events and individuals do not cause the negative thoughts or feelings, but, instead the perception of events and situations is the root cause (National Association of
Cognitive Behavioral Therapists, 2010). The idea of thoughts as they connect to behaviors can be traced back to Epictetus (55 AD -135 AD , Greek Stoic and Philosopher). He stated, “Men are not disturbed by things, but by the view which they take of them (Epictetus and Higgonson, 1944). Epictetus also wrote, “Do not strive for things occurring to occur as you wish, but wish things occurring as they occur, and you will flow well (Epictetus and Lebell, 1994). In other words, see things for what they really are and good health will follow (Romaneck, 2007). Another belief was that a sage or teacher was immune to unhappiness and misfortune. This belief gives credence to the importance to the therapist as a teacher, who ultimately teaches the client how to treat themselves. This is a central construct of CBT. So it appears that the human desire to understand ourselves and the world we live in has existed since the beginning of time (Barker, C. , Pistrang, N. , Elliott, R. Barker, C. , &ump; John Wiley &ump; Sons, 83. 2002). ” According to Barker et. al. , other great philosophers such as Plato and Socrates believed that “the unexamined life was not worth living,” which gives further credence to the early beginnings of cognition and behavior. CBT is a relatively young model and theory. What we know as CBT, began in the 1950’s with Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behavioral approach to therapy (Dobson, 2001). Later in the 1960’s, Aaron Beck began using Cognitive Therapy in treating depression. Barlow, 2001. 230) The origins of what we now know as cognitive behavioral theory is said to come from earlier theories and concepts. Credit can be given to early philosophers such as Kant (1782), theorists such as Alfred Adler (Individual Psychology), and behaviorists such as Joseph Wolpe and George Kelly . Frued can also be mentioned, albeit indirectly, for his theory was quite distressing to Adler who stated, “l am convinced that a person’s behaviors springs from his ideas. ” (pg 306. Milkman and Sunderwirth, 2010).
Pavlov and Skinner can also be acknowledged, for their work in learned behavior and conditioning, which directly correlates to the concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy. More recently, A. Pucci began utilizing a form of cognltlve Denavloral tnerapy called rational llvlng tnerapy ( ) According to Puccl (p 276. 2006), RLT takes the best of REMT, RBT, CT, and combines elements with research findings on cognitive development, learning theory, brain functioning, perception, social psychology, linguistics and special brain states in order to facilitate learning and progress.
But, for this body of work we will focus on two of the most widely known theorists related to CBT, Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck. Albert Ellis can be eferred to as the grandfather of cognitive therapy. Ellis became dissatisfied with practicing traditional psychoanalysis and psychotherapy and began to focus more on philosophical beliefs including those that clients could change self defeating behaviors by changing their point of view (p333.
Sharf, 2012). Ellis was the first to connect the impact of thoughts as they relate to behaviors when he published in 1962, Reason and Emotion in Psychotherapy (Walsh, 2010). Ellis’s work asserted that an individual’s underlying thinking about him or herself directly effected his/her ehavior, and as a therapist, his goal was to help the client become more reasonable in thought, and ultimately in the followed behaviors.
This led Ellis to develop a different type of therapy, called Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy(REBT). His approach was fine tuned over the years and focused on many realms such as social, psychological, biological and philosophical domains (334. Sharf, 2012). He believed that problems in these domains created psychological dysfunction and disturbances in a person’s life. As a result, Ellis believed that for good health, his model would focus on res