Cognitive therapy (CT)

Faye F. Didymus*, Paul McCarthy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


Cognitive therapy (CT; Beck, 1963, 1964, 1967) is a structured, short-term, and present-orientated therapy focusing on changing cognitions to create helpful subsequent adaptations to emotions and behaviors. We shall probe this classification of CT throughout this chapter but, for now, in an encompassing sense, we can regard CT as any technique whose chief mode of action is modifying patterns of faulty thinking (Beck, 1970a, 1970b). Indeed, CT is a set
of operations that focus on a client’s cognitions (verbal or pictorial) and on the assumptions, attitudes, and premises underlying these cognitions (Beck, 1970b).
Beck (1967) began his work on cognitive theory to overcome his frustration when attempting to use psychoanalysis to treat patients with depression. Although originally developed
as a therapy for depression, researchers have successfully adapted this approach to address problems among diverse populations (Beck, 1967). Such adaptations changed the focus, techniques, and length of treatment, yet the theoretical premises remain constant. In developing CT, Beck interrogated the work of philosophers such as Epictetus and theorists such as Karen Horney, Alfred Adler, George Kelly, Albert Ellis, Richard Lazarus, Albert Bandura, and many others. The cognitive model proposes that dysfunctional thinking is common to all psychological disturbances. Such dysfunctional thinking influences a person’s mood and behavior. By learning to judge one’s thinking realistically and adaptively, negative emotions and maladaptive behavior subside. In CT, we spell “cognitive” with a lowercase “c” to recognize that “cognitive” is an adjective rather than one part of the compound noun “Cognitive Therapy” (Beck, 1979a; Wills, 2009).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApplying Cognitive Behavioural Therapeutic Approaches in Sport
EditorsMartin Turner, Marc Jones, Andrew Wood
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780367754327
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2023


  • cognitive therapy
  • applied sport psychology
  • sport psychologist
  • interventions
  • elite sport
  • behaviour change


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