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Aaron Beck

Aaron T. Beck, MD (1921-  ) is a practicing psychiatrist and professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.  Daniel. B. Smith’s  article ‘The Doctor is In, At 88, Aaron Beck is now revered for an approach to psychotherapy and pushed Freudian analysis aside’   describes Dr. Beck’s  semi retirement yet  reveals a vibrant and very active person  involved with his non for profit organization, teaching and counseling patients.   Dr. Beck began his study of psychology a little reluctantly serving a six month residency in psychology. Dr. Beck hoping to originally become a neurologist, spent his lifetime in a career he passions (Corey, G.,p. 274 (2009).   According to Smith, Becks’ enormous success stems from CBT’s pragmatism and efficiently.  Smith’s interview with Beck describes CT’s proficiency by stating that the average anxiety or depression case, typically reports a lessening of symptoms after 12 to 14 sessions.   Smith points out that, “the power of this approach has led it to be adopted, in one form or another, by a vast number of mental health professionals”.  Corey states that Dr. Beck continues his research and notes he has published 450 articles and 17 books to date, (Corey, G.,p. 274 (2009).  

 To understand cognitive therapy development, one must realize that Dr. Beck  became disenchanted with psychodynamic theories for the treatment of depression.  Beck spent time analyzing himself afterhours in his basement and soughtout remedies for his patients’ depression.   Beck theorized that cognitive symptoms of depression preceded the cause and affective or mood symptoms, Smith, D.B (2009).   Essentially negative thoughts result in negative moods.   He expanded his theory into a “cognitive model of depression”, Butchner, J.  (et al) p.245 (2007). This model presents negative biased thoughts or errors into three themes, self, world and future.   See an interpretation of Beck’s depression Triade below.♣

Becks Negative Cognitive Triad

Beck’s focus on behaviorism proved to be a scientific and clinical windfall according to Smith, D.B (2009).   Becks contributions have been meaningful to say the least, James Butchner, reminds the reader that Beck later in his career extended his theories to the treatment of anxiety disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, adolescent conduct disorders, and substance abuse disorders; noting that cognitive and cognitive behavioral therapy are terms for the most part terms used interchangeably, Butchner, J.  (et al) p.625 (2007).

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