At the heart of cognitive behavioral theory approach is the idea that a person's problems come from by their thoughts, life pattern, and behavior. The logical assumption is that individuals can generate problems for themselves depending on the nature of their thinking pattern. What people imagine and think about a situation is greater compared to the case. Thus, the approach emphasis is structured to solve an individual's problem by changing the way the person thinks about situations. The cognitive behavioral theory, therefore, is based on the idea that behaviors and people’s emotions up shots from cognitive processes though not exclusively. Moreover, it is possible for an individual to alter these processes to achieve a different kind of feeling and behavior (Ellis, 2003).
In the early 1950’s, a clinical psychologist observed that his patients got better faster when they focused their thinking to themselves, their problems and the world around them. As a result ,he developed rational emotive behavior therapy thereby beginning the cognitive behavioral theory. Subsequently, other systems were developed like the cognitive theory by Beth, and cognitive function theory later in the 1990’s. The cognitive behavioral theory, therefore, is a set of techniques that employ a biopsychosocial approach to explaining why people think and behave in a particular way. Biopsychosocial refers to a combination of several factors together like biological, psychological and social (Ellis, 2003). All these factors interplay together to result in a dysfunctional behavior that is not healthy for living.
The manner in which a person gets to experience negative emotions begins from a dysfunctional thinking pattern as described in the cognitive approach. For example, an individual may not be greeted by his or her neighbor and interpret this as not being liked. Additionally, the individual self-evaluated themselves and decided to avoid people because he or she does not have common attributes among their peers. As a result, the personal experiences negative emotions and feelings like sadness, low self-esteem or worthless (Ellis et al., 1994).Thus, a therapist would first deal with the person's underlying beliefs because they significantly affect the other types of reactions that follow.
Some examples of wrong thinking patterns are several in number. First, the black and white thinking where one sees things in two planes only like right or wrong and good or bad. Second is the filtered thinking where one sees only the right side of a thing and not all parties. Thirdly, overgeneralization where one builds an aspect of a situation and assumes a verdict. Fourthly, mind reading where one guesses other people’s thoughts. Fifth is emotional thinking where one thinks as they feel. Finally, personalizing where one sees an individual as the cause of all things and fortune telling where one overemphasizes in an unseen future more than present reality (Ellis et al., 1994). Apart from faulty thinking, wrong evaluations also fall into the category of things that contribute to a person's behavior and feelings. Some few examples are when people.
The Cognitive approach follows through an inevitable process of helping a person deal with the problems they face. In summary, the approach follows a four step process meant to unearth the problem and finally solve the issue. First, the individual is brought to an understanding that the emotions they feel and the behaviors they experience arise from beliefs and thoughts. Secondly, show or reveal to the patient how the particular ideas within can be unearthed or spotted out. For example, the client will be able to see clearly how the thought and feeling trigger certain behaviors and feelings. Thirdly, you train the person on how to deflect and change the irrational dysfunctional beliefs into rational beliefs (Ellis et al., 1994).. Finally, teach the client how to go against the irrational beliefs daily to effectively think rationally.
In all these steps, various techniques are employed to bring out the intended outcome like cognitive, imagery and behavioral techniques. Behavioral techniques are those that expose the client to situations that they fear and would usually avoid. On the other hand, cognitive techniques train and teach a client how to uncover and fight against irrational thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviors. Lastly, the imagery techniques are designed to help a client see that the world moves on even after a worst case scenario or a feared event or incident has occurred. Thus, one chooses which technique to use depending on the case study.
Although cognitive theory approach has had applause on its superior medication treatment, it suffers some weaknesses in solving certain conditions. Firstly, the technique of helping the client change their irrational belief patterns may not apply to all situations. Certain scars in life are embedded because of experiences people have had in the past and may not be changed in the manner cognitive approach may suggest (Bond & Drayden, 2002). The scars and the feelings after that are very accurate, real and rational though negative. For example, a person’s physical or sexual abuse in the past at the hands of their close relations leave deep wounds in an individual’s life. Cognitive exercises meant to restructure the individuals frame of reality may not help the person because the emphasis of the therapy is on changing reality in the mind that occurred thus not helping in dealing with the root problem.
Secondly, positive self-evaluations sometimes could be dysfunctional and not portray an accurate picture of the case in study. Research shows that in certain fields of study like education, health, and workplace, positive self-evaluations that cognitive approach puts emphasis on tend to be biased and characterized by inaccuracy. For example, an individual’s positive self-evaluation at the workplace may most of the times be dependent on the individual’s perspective and not that of their peer’s or workmates.
Thirdly, the self-introspection cognitive technique seems to emphasize on examining the firm association between dysfunctional thought patterns and individuals negative thoughts (Borcherdt, 2002) . However, it does not address the question of what causes people to focus on their negative attributes considering that self-evaluation is most accurate. Research has revealed that people have a tendency to see themselves positively rather than have a bad self-concept. Consequently, they tell a self-bias thought mostly when they take credit for success and accuse others of situations when they experience failure.
In summary, cognitive behavioral theory one of the most effective ways of administering proper treatment to cases that a psychological in nature. A majority of the problems experienced by individuals can be solved and addressed effectively when appropriate cognitive behavioral techniques are applied. Many of the people living in the world today had significantly benefited from this approach and will continue to help. However, the approach is not the ultimate solution to solving all psychologically related conditions. The method should be used in conjunction with other relevant approved treatment methods after careful diagnosis.