The cognitive approach to treating depression

  • AO1:
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT):
  • Beck suggested that in CBt the patient and the therapist work together, they first clarify the patient's problems, then they will go onto identify where there might be negative or irrational thoughts that will benefit from challenge. The aim of CBT is to identify the negative thoughts about the self, the world and the future - the negative triad. These thoughts must be challenfed by the patient taking an active role in their treatment. 
  • Patients are encouraged to test the reality of their irrational beliefs. They might be set homework, e.g. to record when they enjoyed an event or when people were nice to them. This is referred to as the 'patient as scientist'. In future sessions if patients say that no-one is nice to them or there is no point in going on, the therapist can produce this evidencr to prove the patient's beliefs incorrect. 
  • Ellis' rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT). This expands the ABC model to an ABCDE model. D for dispute (challenge) irrational beliefs) and E for effect. A patient may talk about how unlucky they have been or how unfair life is. An REBT therapist would identify this as utopianism and challenge it as an irrational belief. 
  • Empirical argument - disputing whether there is evidence to support the irrational belief. 
  • Logical argument - disputing whether the negative thought actually follows from the facts. 
  • As individuals become depressed, they tend to increasingly avoid difficult situations and become isolated, which


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