Lecture Note For PSYB45, Lecture 27
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Cognitive Behaviour Modification
Cognition- means belief, thought, expectancy, attitude, or perception.
- Cognitive therapists regard their approach to be primarily that of helping a client
overcome his or her difficulties by getting rid of an unproductive, debilitating
thoughts or beliefs and adopting more constructive ones.
-We have organized the different procedures referred to as cognitive or cognitive
behavior modification into three categories:
1) Treatment that emphasize cognitive restructuring to decrease maladaptive
thoughts that are assumed to cause troublesome emotions
2) Self-directed strategies to enhance overt coping skills
3) Treatments that include “mindfulness,” “acceptance,” and “values” as
important components of therapy.
Cognitive Restructuring Methods
- An assumption to cognitive therapy is that individuals interpret and react to event
in terms of their perceived significance; that is, our beliefs, expectations, and
attitudes affect our behavior.
- Cognitive deficiencies can cause emotional disorders.
- Many therapists believe that faulty thinking is the cause of emotional and
behavioral problems, and the primary focus of their approach to therapy is to
change faulty thinking. This is called cognitive restructuring.
Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
- Created by Ellis
- Emotional problems (and related behaviors) stem from irrational interpretations
(ex! I always screw things up! I never do things right!) that people make of
events in their lives. People tend to think in absolute terms, such as a student
thinking, “I must do well in all my courses.”
- ! They tend to over generalize such as a student thinking after getting a poor
mark on one exam, “I’ll never be a good student.”
- ! People also tend to catastrophize: they tell themselves that things are so
horrible they can’t possible stand it.
- The therapist’s approach to this is to counteract the client’s “irrational” self-
statement with more positive and realistic statement. This is accomplished
through the three main phrases
1) The therapist helps the client to identify troublesome thoughts that are based
on irrational beliefs.
2) In a very confrontational, argumentative way, the therapist vigorously
challenges the client’s irrational beliefs that are thought to be the basis for the
3) The client is taught (through modeling and homework assignments) to replace
the “irrational” self-statement with statement based on “rational” beliefs.
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Uses in vivo behavioral “homework” assignments, which are designed to help
the client challenge irrational beliefs and to confront troublesome emotions
Beck’s Cognitive Therapy
- Developed by Aaron T. Beck in 1976. it was similar to REBT. It was originally
developed for the treatment of depression.
- According to Beck, people with emotional disorders engage excessively in
aberrant, fallacious, or dysfunctional thinking, and this is what causes their
- Examples of dysfunctional thinking:
1) Dichotomous Thinking- which is thinking in absolute terms: Ex!
assume that one is a failure if one gets any grade less than an “A”.
2) Arbitrary Inference- which is drawing conclusions on the basis of
inadequate evidence: Ex! misinterpreting a frown on a face of a
passerby to mean that that person hates you, when really they could be
frowning about something else or to someone else.
3) Overgeneralization- which is reaching a general conclusion on the
basis of too few instances: Ex! assuming that a single failure means
the one cannot success at anything.
4) Magnification-which is exaggerating the meaning or significance of a
particular event: Ex! believing that it is terrible or catastrophic not to
obtain something that one wants very badly.
- Beck’s procedure involves three general components:
1) Clients identify dysfunctional thoughts and maladaptive assumptions that may
be causing debilitating emotions. This is usually accomplished through a
series of visualization exercises and easily answerable questions.
2) One a thought or dysfunctional assumption has been identified, there are
several methods that are used in counteracting it. One such method used by
Beck is reality checking or hypothesis testing. After the client has identified
the dysfunctional belief or thought and has learned to distinguish it as a
hypothesis rather than as a reality, he or she then tests it empirically through
3) Beck frequently used additional homework assignments that contain liberal
doses of behavior modification procedures to develop various desirable daily
Comparison of Approaches of Ellis and Beck
- Similarities! both approaches assume that the client’s difficulty is caused by
some type of inappropriate thought pattern, such as the tendency to exaggerate or
catastrophize unpleasant events. Both also focus on homework assignments
- Differences! Beck does not emphasize the tendency of clients to catastrophize or
“awfulize” nearly as much as Ellis. A second difference is that transcripts of
sessions with clients conducted by Beck and Ellis suggest that Beck takes a
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