Comparing Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies Albert Ellis played a distinctive role in developing cognitive therapy for his clients. His original 5 training was in traditional psychoanalysis but when he found that better overall progress was made when helping clients to change their thinking, his focus shifted. He developed a theory that turned into rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) based on the idea that “people contribute to their own psychological problems, as well as to specific symptoms, by the way they interpret events and situations” (Stone, 2010).
He believed integrating therapy toward the interactions of cognitions, emotions, and behaviors was the most beneficial approach to psychological problems. Principles and Assumptions Both B. F. Skinner and Albert Bandura believed that behavior results from experience that shapes and creates knowledge (Stone, 2010). Though, while Skinner believed also that environmental influences control people, Bandura believed people are more goal-oriented and have specific intentions and purposes with their actions. He believed the basis for learning is observation.
Traditional behavioral theory is based purely on the concepts of classical and operant conditioning, that say what an individual learns produces their behavior (Stone, 2010). Thus, Bandura suspected inappropriate or abnormal behavior is a result of when ones learning is maladapted, or result of maladaptive reactions. In his article, Saul McLeod (2010) discusses behavioral therapy and its principles. A point was made that people are born “tabula rasa” (a blank slate), showing that psychological disorders are a result of maladaptive learning.
Also, he talked of how behaviorists do not assume that sets of symptoms reflect single underlying causes, but several. Supporting Skinner and Banduras beliefs he expanded on the different types of conditioning proposed to cause issues. Comparing Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies Classical conditioning involves learning by association and is usually the cause of most phobias 6 (McLeod, 2010). Contrastingly, operant conditioning involves learning by reinforcement (ex. rewards) and punishment, and can explain abnormal behavior such as eating disorders (McLeod, 2010).
Consequently, the assumed premise is that all behavior is learned; and faulty learning (i. e. conditioning) is the cause of abnormal behaviors. Therefore the individual has to learn the correct or acceptable behavior to redirect themselves from abnormality. McLeod makes a remarkable point that behavioral therapy focuses on current problems and behaviors, and on attempts to remove any behavior that the patient finds troublesome. Some examples of behavior therapy include systematic desensitization, aversion therapy, and flooding.
These “sub-therapies” base off the notion that a response is learned, and repeated through immediate association, thus they must aim to break the association between stimulus and undesired response (phobias, ADHD). On the other hand, Cognitive theory (CT) claims underlying faulty and maladaptive thinking causes psychological disturbances (Stone, 2010). Thus, if the thinking can be corrected, so can the consequential disturbance. Cognitive processes ultimately determine how people emotionally experience, and react to their external and internal environment (Stone, 2010).
Ward (2011) wrote that Ellis believed individuals “have a tendency towards becoming aware of (their) irrationality and working steadily towards rationality. ” In cognitive therapy, clients learn new, more effective ways of thinking (Stone, 2010). Much like psychoanalysis, cognitive theory takes into consideration the client’s early childhood history by supporting that behaviors continue to be reinforced throughout the individual’s lifespan due to patterned thought processes.
In therapy, clients explore maladaptive thoughts and learn to replace them with new rational and appropriate thinking (Stone, 2010). Comparing Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies The primary difference between these two theories is the emphasis exerted on blatant behavior in 7 behavioral theory, and in cognitive theory the focus is centered on cognition or the individual thought processes as the problem source (Stone, 2010). Roles of the Therapist and the Therapies They use Moving back to Ellis’s behavioral therapy, the role of the therapist is rather like that of a teacher.
In challenging clients’ irrational beliefs it shows them how they perpetuate their problems by using illogical and unrealistic thinking, and teaches them how to change the way their thoughts work. Through this, the therapist helps clients develop a “rational philosophy of life” (Stone, 2010). Even after therapy has ceased the development of this philosophy helps to prevent them from returning to irrational thinking. Thus, BT has a wide range of disorders that it is used to treat such as: phobias, behaviormodification, relationships, depression, aggression, and addiction.
In behavioral therapy, the client-therapist relationship becomes central to the therapist’s ability to correctly implement his/her techniques. Functioning as guides and teachers, they “tend to be active and directive and to function as consultants and problem solvers,” taking the role of a friend or parental figure (Stone, 2010). The behavioral therapist continually assesses the client and strategizes to sets goals in agreement with them; once met, those goals are collaboratively evaluated between the therapist and client, giving a sense of “control” to the client.
In Beck’s cognitive therapy (CT), the therapist uses a more collaborative relationship with the client than REBT. This lead to cognitive therapy being used for some of the same things like depression, and phobias, but usually used for more memory based issues such as eyewitness testimonies, forgetfulness, selective attention, and language acquisition. Similarly, CT identifies inaccurate and inappropriate thoughts and beliefs, thus teaching clients a new way of thinking as Comparing Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies well as skills, and tools that continue to help them shape their thinking into a more rational and 8 accurate route.
The difference is that Beck’s CT emphasizes client-therapist relationships far more than REBT. Beck believed the quality of the therapist-client relationship was central to the overall success of the therapy. He also believed “effective therapists are able to combine empathy and sensitivity, along with technical confidence” (Stone, 2010). Having this type of relationship leads clients to feel more “normal”, which cues more normalcy.
The more labels and restrictions are added to a client the slower the healing process becomes. They start to believe them and think they will never go away. Research and Support Skinner’s studies of operant behaviors have become extremely useful in the field of learning and cognition (Stone, 2010). His studies have shown that our behavior can be conditioned by reinforcements, positively, which increases probabilities of recurrence of the behavior, or negatively, decreasing the probability of recurrence (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009).
Skinner’s theories still remain in wide use, helping users understand and thus control their behaviors in psychological disciplines (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009). Stone (2010) claims the research of Kazdin (2001) shown behavioral therapy is generally as effective as alternative therapies, sometimes even more effective. REBT continues to be useful in therapeutic application in teaching and has shown effective in increasing student achievement of those with ADHD (Warren, 2010).
When comparing REBT and CT, Stone (2010) declared both have found to have lasting effects that remain effective after discontinuing therapy for patients with major depressive disorder due to the tools and skills that are instilled during the course of both. In fact, at a six month follow-up those effects were found to be better than pharmacotherapy (Stone, 2010). Ward (2011) made Comparing Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies note that the “human capacity of awareness serves as the cornerstone for controlling our 9 responses to external events and limiting or eliminating irrational beliefs and behaviors.
In other words treatment is possible due to our capacity of awareness that can be tapped into using therapy. Bandura’s principles regarding self-efficacy have even shown effective in counseling breast cancer patients (Stone, 2010) Conclusion Overall, McLeod did a fantastic job in describing how behavioral therapy brings a more external scientific approach with it, being primarily concerned with observable behavior (not internal events such as thought), and the idea that behavior is determined by the environment, and results as a response to a stimulus (2007a).
In comparison, McLeod also described how cognitive therapy is based more on how internal mental behavior can be scientifically studied using experiments (2007b). These experiments follow stimulus, internal computation, and then reaction. Thus, unlike behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy assumes that a mediational process occurs between stimulus/ input and response/output in which information is processed, stored, and retrieved later. It is this process that is believed to create issues, not learned behaviors themselves.
I believe that neither therapy is sufficient enough by itself. For this reason, it makes perfect sense why cognitive behavioral therapy was developed: the external nature of behaviorism, and the internal nature of cognitive therapy combine form CBT. This combination allows therapists a stronger approach that has the possibility to help clients control their irrational thoughts AND contain any learned behaviors that might have stemmed from them.