Quo Vadis Cbt? Trans-Cultural Perspectives on the Past, Present, and Future of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies: Interviews with the Current Leadership in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies

Article excerpt

Abstract

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has emerged from the work of Dr. Aaron T. Beck and Dr. Albert Ellis. However, it has been extended well beyond the borders of the research groups of these two founders, all over the world, in Asia, Europe, South America, and the USA. The question, taking into account the unprecedented expansion of cognitive-behavioral therapy, is whether current cognitive-behavioral therapy is still a coherent and homogenous approach. Therefore, we have interviewed the major representatives (presidents and/or board members) of major cognitivebehavioral psychotherapy organizations in Asia, Europe, South America, and the USA. Interestingly, both at a theoretical and practical level, the perspectives are quite coherent suggesting that the cognitive-behavioral approach is a robust approach with cultural adaptations, which do not affect the main architecture of the theory and practice of CBT.

Key words: cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, theory, practice, analysis.

INTRODUCTION

Cognitive behavioral therapy has emerged from the work of Dr. Aaron T. Beck and Dr. Albert Ellis. However, it has been extended well beyond the borders of the research groups of these two founders, all over the world, in Asia, Europe, South America, and the USA. The question, taking into account the unprecedented expansion of cognitive-behavioral therapy, is whether current cognitive-behavioral therapy is still a coherent and homogenous approach. Therefore, we have interviewed the major representatives (presidents and/or board members) of major cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy organizations in Asia, Europe, South America, and the USA. The other organizations, not included in this analysis, have a cultural background and a scientific approach that fits one of these major organizations. The questions of the interviews were carefully selected to cover important past, current, and future theoretical and practical issues, of whose clarification is fundamental for the field of cognitive-behavioral therapies.

I. European Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies

?? Jan van den Bout is professor of clinical psychology and Head of the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology of Utrecht University, the Netherlands. From 1997-2005 he was president of the Dutch Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapy, and is, since 2003, President of the European Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (EABCT). His research focuses mainly on complicated grief and psychological trauma.

Q 1. How would you briefly define CBT and who do you consider to be the major founders/originators of CBT?

A. CBT is a branch of psychotherapy, which heavily lends on the attitude, theories, principles and findings of academic psychology. CBT is a mixture of behavior therapy (=BT) and cognitive therapy (=CT). For behavior therapy the central learning principles are classical conditioning (Pavlov) and operant conditioning (Thorndike; Skinner). Early pioneers who made important contributions to behavior therapy include Mowrer, Wolpe, and Eysenck. The 'founding fathers' of cognitive therapy are Ellis and Beck.

2. As you know, there are many schools of CBT. What do you think are the core common assumptions of these various schools? Is it correct to talk about "various schools of CBT" or it would be better to reframe this as "various strategies/theories/models part of a coherent CBT paradigm"?

BT is grounded in experimental psychology, especially learning theory. Learning principles (especially classical and operant conditioning), first discovered and tested with animals, were the basis for the development of efficient therapeutic procedures for humans. The relation between CT and academic psychology is more difficult to define. Central for CT are information-processing models, in which strong emphasis is laid on the process of meaning making.

Whether there is one or there are two or many CBT models/paradigms, it depends - as always - on how you look at it. …