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Where did Cognitive Behaviour Therapy begin?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy developed largely out of the collision of two fields of psychological theory and research, somewhat self-evidently these were: cognitive psychology and behavioural psychology.

Behaviour Therapy originally developed from the application of laboratory research into human and animal learning and behaviour.

Techniques for modifying child behaviour through rewards, and overcoming phobias through gradually confronting feared situations, have their origins in this laboratory research dating back more than a century.

However over time many considered that behaviour therapy, with it's focus on behaviour and consequences, did not give sufficient weight to the role of thoughts and feelings, and in the process behaviour therapy missed important areas which therapy could usefully addressing.

Around this time groups of psychologists (such as Albert Ellis) and psychiatrists (such as Aaron T. Beck) had been developing a form of therapy that specifically targeted thoughts and emotions, known as cognitive therapy. What was more, controlled trials of cognitive therapy were showing it to be highly effective in treating conditions such as depression.

Given the emerging evidence for the effectiveness of both of these psychological approaches, it was not long before researchers and therapists began experimenting with a combination of these two approaches, hence the birth of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT.

Modern Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in it's current form is really a very broad label to describe a range of techniques used for treating a range of psychological problems. Over time research has isolated specific techniques that have proven more effective for certain classes of psychological disorders.

The Cognitive Behavioural family of therapies is now very broad, with sometimes marked differences. These newer approaches, while descendents of the original, sometimes have as much distinct from each other as they have in common.

The links in the right of this page take you to pages with some very brief descriptions of some of these.

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Disclaimer: This site is intended for Australian audiences. It is general information and should not be used for treatment or diagnosis of your problems. Consult a GP or mental health professional for advice on your situation. If you require immediate telephone counselling assistance please call Lifeline 24 hour counselling service on 13 11 14, or contact your local mental health service.

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