You Do What You Believe

Aaron Beck (born 1921) is known for further developing Cognitive Behaviour theory.  I have found that he is known to have developed studies and clinical observations of clients, in the 1960’s, in relation to the treatment of depression.

Beck became known for having further developed Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and a ‘Model of Depression’.  The aim of this was to enable a client to change their unhelpful and unhealthy thought processes into helpful and healthy thought processes.  Beck suggested that depressed clients may see themselves as a failure and more paranoid clients may see themselves as victims.

Beck described how a person has a system of beliefs and rules, which he called Schemas. The model works with clients to explore their thought processes, beliefs and their experience of ‘automatic thoughts’.  Beck suggested that people experience sudden ‘automatic thoughts’, which are unconscious to the conscious mind and, if the person is anxious or negative, these thoughts may reinforce anxiety and negative beliefs. 

Schemas themselves are developed from the way in which a person evaluates their life and life events.  These events are, in turn, translated into ways that a person may regard themselves, others and perhaps even society; becoming new belief systems.

Negative belief systems may reinforce unhelpful or unhealthy thoughts and emotions.  This may, consequently, influence behaviour negatively.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy aims for clients to reconsider their thought processes and underlying beliefs.  The aim being to replace negative thought processes and beliefs with more positive ones.  This may then influence positively upon the person’s subsequent behaviour.

The change, from unhelpful and unhealthy thought processes, is achieved by helping the client to achieve rational thinking.   This then results in more positive beliefs, positive behavioural changes and, importantly, more positive outcomes.  With a more positive belief system, anxiety is then more easily reduced.

This article is just a very brief overview of Beck’s work in further developing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  I would suggest further reading on the subject.

(C) Dean Parsons  April 2018.

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