Cognitive Therapy Techniques: A Practitioner's Guide

Cognitive Therapy Techniques: A Practitioner's Guide

Cognitive Therapy Techniques: A Practitioner's Guide

Cognitive Therapy Techniques: A Practitioner's Guide


An indispensable clinical companion, this book is packed with useful tools and interventions that will expand the repertoire of novice and experienced cognitive therapists. Detailed are the full variety of evidence-based techniques that can be brought to bear on specific client problems and therapeutic challenges. Therapists will rediscover--or learn for the first time--a wealth of effective ways to identify and challenge thoughts and core beliefs; modify patterns of worry, self-criticism, and approval-seeking; evaluate personal schemas; intervene in emotional processes; and activate new experiences for the client. Each technique is thoroughly described in Robert L. Leahy's trademark accessible style and illustrated with vivid case examples. Designed in a convenient large-size format, the book is bursting with over 80 reproducible client forms and handouts.


Do you find yourself using the same cognitive techniques with most—if not all—of your patients? Do you feel stuck using the same tried and true bag of “tricks” with few alternatives? I think these are feelings all of us have had. Many of us get stuck in familiar patterns, using clinical tactics that have worked most of the time or some of the time. In so doing, we overlook the range of approaches that can give us great flexibility and make a world of difference for our patients.

I have asked many cognitive therapists, “What techniques do you generally use?” The same few techniques come up over and over: identify the thought, look at the costs and benefits of the thought, examine the evidence. These are valid techniques, and I am not suggesting you discard them. But if you have a narrow repertoire of interventions to draw on, therapy can get a bit stuck, and even remain superficial. What could be worse, your own enthusiasm for the process could be undermined by the routine you establish.

I wrote this book both for new clinicians who do not want to be limited to a simple list of a few techniques and for experienced clinicians who can derive from it ideas of how to expand cognitive therapy by employing techniques that will appear new to them.

An exciting reality about cognitive therapy is that there are new techniques, new strategies and new conceptualizations being developed all of the time. As work in this field has grown, researchers and clinicians have refined and tested dozens of therapeutic interventions that can be applied to work with our clients. I have organized this book around certain categories of interventions or techniques, beginning with many of the traditional techniques for identifying and evaluating thoughts and assumptions. I have drawn on the recent work on cognitive models of worry and rumination, as well as some techniques from a schema-focused model, to examine how novel cognitive therapy techniques can help with a range of client problems.

Given the philosophical bent of much of cognitive therapy, it should come as no surprise that I devote a separate chapter to identifying and modifying logical errors and faulty information processing, as well as putting things into a historical and philosophical perspective. I believe emotional processing is as key to psychopathology as “cognitive distortions.” With that in mind, I have written the chapter . . .

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