This page focuses on the treatments associated with the Cognitive approach and depression. The Cognitive treatments take the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and look at addressing the faulty/irrational and dysfunctional thinking believed to be held by the patients.
Cognitive Treatments of Depression (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
The notion that underpins the cognitive approach is that mental disorders result from errors in thinking. The aim of cognitive therapy (more often referred to as cognitive-behavioural therapy) is to challenge any irrational or dysfunctional thoughts and to replace them with more rational ones. Two main therapies are based on the Cognitive approach:
These therapies share many similarities and so we will only deal with one example here.
Ellis’ Rational-Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT)
How it works:
Ellis emphasises that it is not the activating event that causes unproductive consequences it is the beliefs that lead to the self-defeating consequences. REBT therefore focuses on challenging or disputing these beliefs and replacing them with effective, rational beliefs. For example:
This process helps a patient to move from catastrophising to a more rational interpretation of events.
Evaluation, AO3 of Cognitive Treatments of Depression (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT):
(1) POINT: A strength of CBT is that research has suggested that it can successfully treat abnormalities such as OCD. EXAMPLE: From a meta-analysis, Engels et al (1993) concluded CBT is an effective treatment for a range of different disorders such as depression and social phobia. EVALUATION: This is positive because it suggests that CBT can be useful to more people than many other treatments, without the harmful side effects of drug therapies. Furthermore, CBT can be seen to not just assist individuals with dealing with the symptoms of their depression, many patients can transfer the skills they have developed through CBT to help them with other issues such as stress management.
(1) POINT: However, CBT may not be a suitable treatment for all depression sufferer. EXAMPLE: For example, individual differences can affect whether or not CBT is effective from person to person. Some individuals feel very positive about treatments such as CBT and are prepared to engage with the programme whereas others refuse to engage with programme requirements such as the completion of homework tasks/find it difficult to actively apply the principals to their everyday life. EVALUATION: This is a weakness as it suggests that CBT would not be the best treatment for all depression sufferers, this means that it is vitally important that the needs of the individual client/patient should always be considered before a course of treatment is decided.
(2) POINT: CBT fails to acknowledge that some mental disorders may be due to biological factors. EXAMPLE: For example, according to the Biological approach, OCD may be linked to low levels of serotonin in the brain suggesting that the cognitive therapies ignore the role that biology can play in a mental disorder. EVALUATION: This is problematic because it means that CBT will not work for some clients as the role of biology in mental disorders is not being considered.