Change your thoughts. Change your life.

Pioneered by our co-founder, the late Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s and 1970s, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a form of structured talk therapy that helps individuals learn to recognize and change negative patterns of thinking and behavior in order to better cope with challenging situations and improve overall quality of life. Since then, more than 2,000 outcome studies have scientifically proven the effectiveness of CBT in treating a wide variety of health and mental health conditions.

Automatic Thoughts

During his research Dr. Beck found that depressed patients often experienced negative thoughts about themselves, the world, and/or the future. These thoughts, or cognitions, appeared to occur spontaneously and Dr. Beck referred to them as “automatic thoughts.” Depressed patients would focus on these negative automatic thoughts resulting in both negative feelings and negative behaviors.

Cognitive Therapy

Based on the idea that thoughts, feelings and behaviors are interconnected, Dr. Beck had the patients first identify and then evaluate these automatic thoughts. As they learned to recognize their negative thoughts and inaccurate perceptions for what they were, the patients were able to think more realistically and feel better emotionally. Dr. Beck called this approach Cognitive Therapy, which later became what is known today as Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy Today

Although CBT began with research on depression, today it is used to treat a range of mental health challenges including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use, and sleep disorders as well as health issues like migraine headaches, dementia, and obesity. Recovery-Oriented Cognitive Therapy (CT-R) is a new approach based on Dr. Aaron Beck’s cognitive model that focuses on improving the lives of individuals with serious mental health conditions, like schizophrenia and psychosis, rather than simply reducing their symptoms. The most widely-practiced and heavily-researched form of psychotherapy, CBT has been demonstrated to be effective for both children and adults.

The Future of CBT

As awareness of mental health issues continues to grow around the world, access to quality CBT treatment from trained professionals is more crucial than ever. Adapting CBT treatment for diverse cultures and populations, providing innovative forms of digital and online treatment, and developing more robust and effective training programs will make improving public mental health not only possible but cost-effective.

Beck Institute promotes cutting-edge therapy and supports state-of-the-art CBT research and training in the hope that one day everyone can access high-quality, evidence-based treatment to help them change their thoughts and improve their lives.