Cognitive approach of abnormality

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  • Created on: 11-01-13 07:25
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Cognitive approach:
This model of explaining abnormality states that faulty thinking causes
abnormality. A person's cognitions (thinking, attitude, expectations) affect
the way they behave directly. Mental illness is the result of someone having
inappropriate/disordered thinking; the focus is not on the problem itself but
is on the way a person thinks about it.
Ellis' A-B-C model explains this:
A ­ activating event (sight of a large dog)
B ­ belief, can be rational or irrational (rational ­ dog is harmless,
irrational ­ dog is going to attack me)
C ­ consequence, rational leads to healthy emotions and irrational
leads to unhealthy (rational ­ amusement, irrational ­ fear or panic)
The cognitive model believes abnormality is caused by the people having
faulty control over their own thoughts. The other models believe that a
person's behaviour is caused by external issues which are out of the persons
control such as genes and the environment (biological, psychodynamic,
Research methods:
Experiments ­ Assumptions of the model can be scientifically tested,
Thase compared cognitive therapy with antidepressants and found CT
to be no less effective than antidepressants and was better tolerated
by patients, this suggests depression is at least in part a disorder
caused by faulty thinking.
Meta-analysis - this involves a researcher looking at findings from a
number of different studies in order to make a conclusion about a
certain hypothesis. Smith and Glass did a meta-analysis of research
into psychotherapies and found cognitive to be the 2nd highest average
success rate.
Evaluation of the cognitive approach:
+VE ­ Offers a useful explanation for disorders such as anorexia and
depression which involve a persons thoughts and beliefs as it considers how
their thoughts and beliefs could be part of the reason they have developed
the disorder
+VE ­ The therapies have successfully treated abnormalities such as
depression, anxiety, stress and eating disorders
+VE ­ It shows a person how to take more control of their life and make a
positive change to their behaviour
-VE ­ Faulty thinking may not be the cause of a disorder but could be a
consequence of a disorder, for example a chemical imbalance in the brain can
cause negative thinking.
-VE ­ cognitive therapies can take a long time to work and are costly, also
the therapies sometime work better when combined with other therapies or
-VE ­ The therapy works better with some conditions than others
-VE ­ Could cause more problems for the person as they believe they are to
blame for their problems

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Stress inoculation training (SIT)
Rational-emotive behavioural therapy (REBT)
Stress inoculation training:
This method teaches the patient to protect themselves from the harmful
effects of stress; it involves training so you can prepare to deal with stress
before it is a problem.
1. Conceptualisation ­ identifying fears and concerns with the help of the
2. Skill acquisition ­ train to develop skills like positive thinking and
relaxation in order to improve self-confidence
3.…read more

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Not all individuals would have the spare time and money to be able to
achieve this therapy.
-VE ­ Unnecessarily complex, SIT is not necessarily useful from all aspects of
its therapy, so may be more useful than others. This means the long time
spent on the training could be reduced without losing much of the
effectiveness, they could just teach people how to talk more positively and
relax more.…read more


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