Know Thyself? Questioning the Theoretical Foundations of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has become the dominant form of psychotherapy in North America. The CBT model is theoretically based on the idea that all external and internal stimuli are filtered through meaning-making, consciously accessible cognitive schemas. The goal of CBT is to identify dysfunctional or maladaptive thoughts and beliefs, and replace them with more adaptive cognitive interpretations. While CBT is clearly effective as a treatment, there is good reason to be skeptical that its efficacy is due to the causal mechanisms posited by the CBT model. This paper will argue that the specific cognitive schemas posited by the CBT model likely do not play a direct role in the development or treatment of psychological illness. Cognitive schemas, as identified in CBT interventions, are likely to be the result of patient confabulation and epistemically under-supported practitioner-based identification. CBT interventions appear to impose coherence on patients’ psychological states, rather than identifying and modifying preexistent causally efficacious core beliefs.
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Archival date: 2020-03-09
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