Analysis Of Aaron Beck's Cognitive Theory Of Depression

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It is believed the most influential model in treatment methods of depression has been Aaron Beck’s cognitive theory of depression (Beck 1976). Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most widely practised branch of psychotherapy. It was developed in the seventies by Professor Aaron T Beck. He concluded that in his treatment of depression, a combination of cognitive and behaviour therapies were more effective than psychoanalysis. By using clinical observation of depressed patients Beck was able to come to the conclusion that patients had a negative cognitive triad where they had a negative view of themselves, the world and their future. He dubbed this negative thinking as “negative automatic thoughts” (Beck 1976), as the thoughts seemed more spontaneous rather than as the result of deliberate thought. Through this essay, I will be discussing how the importance of our thoughts and behaviours are vital in understanding depression (Beck et al. 1979), the key components of CBT, and how negative automatic thoughts may influence our everyday lives.

The three modalities of behaviour are motor, cognitive and physiological. While there are therapies that focus separately on one of these modalities, treatment programmes of Beck et al. (1979) address all three as Beck’s behavioural interventions are designed to modify motor and physiological behaviour through behavioural means (Murdoch 1991). The key components of CBT are made up in a cognitive model where level 1 is based on

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