Essay on Cognitive Therapy

Published: 2021/11/25
Number of words: 2621


This paper highlights and discusses cognitive therapy as one of the methods of controlling depression and anxiety. The theory was developed by Aaron T. Beck in 1960’s. The paper highlights its effectiveness, ethical issues, interventions, and its compatibility with the Christianity values.

The thoughts, feelings, and behavior of persons are all connected. By identifying and changing the unhelpful thinking, problematic behaviors, and distressing emotional responses, individuals can effectively achieve their life goals. This paper discusses cognitive therapy as one of the ways psychotherapists use in controlling depression, stress, anxiety, and substance abuse.

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Cognitive Therapy

The developer of the theory

Cognitive therapy theory was developed by Aaron T. Beck in the year 1960 (McLeod, 2015). Cognitive therapy can be used to treat people with a wide range of mental health problems. It aims to create awareness to people whenever they make negative interpretations and behavioral patterns that reinforce the distorted thinking.

What the developer believed about human nature

Aaron T. Beck believed that abnormality in human being occurs as a result of faulty cognitions about the world, other people, and ourselves (McLeod, 2015). Further, the developer of the theory believed that lack of proper planning and inaccurate processing of information are the major indications of faulty thinking. Consequently, these cognitions bring about distortions in the way people see things. Aaron held that if a person’s mental representation is inaccurate or their ways of reasoning are inadequate, then their emotions and behavior will be distorted.


In the year 2000, Butler and Beck reviewed fourteen meta-analyses with an aim of testing the validity of Beck’s cognitive therapy (McLeod, 2015). From their observations, they concluded that about eighty percent of adults benefited from the therapy. The research further revealed that this type of therapy is more was more successful than the than the drug therapy and had a relatively lower lapse rate. Butler and Beck concluded that depression has a cognitive basis and that the knowledge of cognitive explanation can improve the quality of people’s lives.


Cognitive therapy is effective in the treatment of personality disorders such as anger, stress, anxiety, and depression (Hofmann, Asnaani, Vonk, Sawyer & Fang, 2012). Research has revealed that cognitive therapy has superior efficacy when it comes to treating these disorders. Cognitive therapy is more effective in treating bulimia as compared to the other forms of psychotherapies. Additionally, the research revealed that the therapy is effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Why the therapy is appropriate for my client

Cognitive therapy will be most appropriate for my client who suffers from depression and anxiety. The client feels depressed due to the broken relationship with his son and wife. His son does not want to talk to him and this has resulted in him engaging in an uncontrolled alcoholism. Most often, the client is anxious due to the horrific airplane crash. Cognitive therapy would be the best in treating the two disorders.

Ethical issues

Ethical concerns regarding the cognitive therapy treatment for anxiety and depression include the fear of symptom exacerbation, confidentiality, and the safety of the client (Altis, Elwood & Olatunji, 2014). If not well handled, the client may leave the therapeutic process worse than before. It would be advisable to listen to the client carefully and try as much as possible to help him out without making him feel guilty or worsening the situation. Moreover, the privacy of the client needs to be observed as most of the information obtained from him involves his personal life.

Multicultural issues

Some of the potential multicultural issues in such a case are the unwillingness of the man to apologize to his wife or children. This could happen especially if the person comes from a society that believes in male chauvinism. Additionally, depression or other mental health conditions that one culture may view as a reason for therapy may be seen as a matter to be handled by family or religion in another culture (“Multicultural Concerns,” 2018).

Crisis Situations

Cognitive therapy can be used in crisis situations. During such times, there is a high likelihood of people suffering from depression, phobias, and anxiety. The main goal of cognitive therapy is to change patterns of thinking and behaviors that are behind people’s difficulties and change the way they feel (McLeod, 2018). Cognitive therapy would be used to recognize cases of distorted thinking among the affected persons and replace it with more realistic substitute ideas.

Substance abuse situations

Cognitive therapy can be used in controlling substance abuse among the people. Cognitive therapy operates on the premise that people’s thoughts create their emotions, which leads to behaviors. To change a person’s behavior, his or her thoughts, emotions, and behaviors need to be monitored and the negative thoughts replaced with positive thoughts to create a lasting behavioral change. Cognitive therapy will explore the inaccurate believes about substance in persons and develop positive steps towards sobriety.

Presenting problem

The presenting problems of the client were both personal and occupational. The client had complained about lack of good relationship with his son and wife. He feels that his son hates him and does not want to talk to him. This has depressed him and he feels that alcohol is the only solutions to such a problem. Additionally, the client developed anxiety after the plane crash. He just cannot get the horrific incident out of his mind and it often causes him nightmares. Following the horrific plane crash, the client is under investigation. This has caused stress to him and he admits that he is rarely able to sleep. Whip admits that he feels guilty for the fact that he stopped going praying and going to church. The fact that he is currently out of work and does not know how long it will take compounds his tribulations.

The goals

The first goal would be to repair the client’s broken relationship with his son. I would advise him to personally write an apology letter to his son confessing his actions and assuring him that he is ready to reform. He should do the same to his wife and if possible invite both his son and wife to accompany him to the counselor so that they are guided accordingly too. Secondly, I would advise Whip to visit my office regularly so that I can be able to assess his progress and advise him depending on how he progresses. I would use this chance to help him reduce anxiety created by the horrific plane crash. I would take that opportunity to try to have him repent his sins and turn back to God since he had confessed to me that he regrets turning away from religion. Moreover, I would help Whip to regain back his faith in Christ. According to religion, reuniting with God is the only way he will be able to deal with the hard situation that he is in. It will help understand that such tribulations come as a result of sinful life and that he needs to repent. Once Whip acknowledges this and repents his sins, he will find freedom in Christ and as such, he will be set free.


Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing is the process in which the counselor becomes the helper in the change process and expresses acceptance over his or her client. The role of motivational interviewing is to issue directives to the client with an aim of eliciting a positive behavioral change (“Motivational Interviewing,” n.d.). However, this type of intervention is based on the fact that the empathic, supportive, yet directive counseling style provides a condition under which change can occur. This technique will help me in getting Whip to turn to back to God and stop drug abuse. I would persuade Whip to regularly accompany me to church and other religious gatherings.

Systematic desensitization

This type of behavior therapy is based on the principle of classical conditioning. It aims to remove the fear response of phobia and anxiety (McLeod, 2015). The patient is taught a deep muscle relaxation and alongside breathing exercises. The patient then creates a fear hierarchy starting with the stimuli that create the least anxiety and builds up to the most fear-provoking stimuli. The patient practices relaxation techniques as they go along the established hierarchy. This process is repeated until the stimuli fail to evoke anxiety from the patient. I would use this intervention to help my client deal with the anxiety brought about by the plane crash. Most of the time, I would give him stories of accidents that have ever happened in the world so that the plane crash does not evoke anxiety from him in future.


Insight into cognitive therapy occurs when a person suddenly reinterprets a stimulus, situation, or event to produce a non-obvious and a nondominant interpretation (Kounios & Beeman, 2014). It is the sudden change of a concept which in most cases leads to the solution of a problem. I would use this intervention to show Whip what he has been missing in Christ. I would give him examples of biblical persons who deviated from Christ’s way and were equally punished. This will help Whip search his soul and get back to his religious faith. Additionally, I would use this technique to show Whip why he needs to take the necessary steps to reunite back with his wife and son who will always be there to comfort him during hard times.

Spiritual application


One of the major spiritual challenges, in this case, is how to be both specific to a religious tradition and at the same time be broad enough to be applicable to a number of world traditions and the diversity of beliefs within one religious tradition. Secondly, taking Whip to the church will mean that I abandon my own church so that I make sure he attends church services at his place. Moreover, the client’s wife and son may not be willing to stick with religion and this would be discouraging to the client. If Whip is interested in having a Christian counseling, I would connect him to a pastor who would offer him the necessary assistance. Before that, I would try my best in helping him to forget the horrific plane crash that had happened and reconcile him with his son and wife.

Additional resources

Other than the bible, church, and prayer, Christian anxiety groups can be an essential resource in helping Whip. Such groups are will include the client in discussing society values, morals and norms. Being a member of such groups will mean that my client has a reference point just in case he feels depressed or anxious. The group will be ready to listen to Whip, give him a sense of belonging and remind him that he is still loved and that all is well. I would recommend to the client that he make use of the online published psychological materials. He will be able to find a similar case that had happened before and how the victims worked them out. From such materials, the client will be able to gain knowledge on how he will be able to stop the habit of taking alcohol. I would recommend to whip that he seeks the services of a marriage counselor regularly. From his case, it is clear that the break up with his wife played a major role towards his depression. If Whip can find someone who will help him reunite back with his wife and son, he will have taken the first step towards healing.

Compatibility with Christian beliefs

There is always some compatibility between Christianity and any system that places a high premium on human rationality (Jones & Butman, 2011). As such, cognitive therapy is compatible with the Christian beliefs. According to the bible and the cognitive behavioral therapy, a person’s thoughts are actions over which he or she has control of and these thoughts have implications on the quality of the person’s life. The change process that takes place in sanctification is the same process which occurs during the application of the cognitive therapy (Jones & Butman, 2011). Cognitive therapy encourages self-awareness. Similarly, the scripture encourages the same sort of self-awareness of cognitions in form of cognitive behavioral therapy. The focus on the cognitive therapy encourages personal growth and accountability just like the Christian values.

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One of the major differences between cognitive behavioral therapy and Christian sanctification is God’s active participation in the process of sanctification (Jones & Butman, 2011). Unlike cognitive therapy which emphasizes on counseling personnel, Christians emphasize on direct experiences of God’s grace. What is normal and adaptive in cognitive therapy lacks moral reference or definition unlike in Christianity. Christians have norms and behaviors that are part of their faith. Additionally, Christians’ worldview allows free will and choice, unlike cognitive therapy. In cognitive therapy, the complete person is not addressed, only the behavior is. On the other hand, Christians’ approach is holistic. It addresses each of the person’s need including his or her behavior and relationship with God.

Research shows that cognitive therapy has succeeded in handling anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. By applying this procedure to Whip, I expect that the level of anxiety in him will go down and that he will recover from depression. After such a therapy, I expect that my client will take the very first step towards his recovery by giving up on alcoholism. With numerous counseling sessions and illustrations, I expect that the client will follow the advised steps and reunite with his son and wife. In addition, I expect that he will relax over the plane crash incident and try to live a normal life. One of the main challenging aspects of such treatment is the varied religious beliefs of the client. At times, the client may refuse to follow a certain directive if he or she feels that it is not in line with his or her religious belief. Another challenge is the instance where similar cases that can be used to stimulate anxiety are not available such as the plane crash.


Altis, K., Elwood, L., & Olatunji, B. (2014). ethical issues and ethical therapy associated with anxiety disorders. Ethical issues in behavioral neuroscience, 265-278.

Hofmann, S., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I., Sawyer, A., & Fang, A. (2012). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Cognitive therapy and research36(5), 427-440.

Jones, S., & Butman, R. (2011). Modern psychotherapies.

Kounios, J., & Beeman, M. (2014). The cognitive neuroscience of Retrieved 7 March 2018, from

McLeod, S. (2018). Simply Psychology. Retrieved 7 March 2018, from

McLeod, S. (2015). Simply Retrieved 7 March 2018, from

Motivational interviewing. Retrieved 7 March 2018, from

Multicultural Concerns. (2018). Retrieved 7 March 2018, from

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