Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches psychology systematically, effecting results through Socratic dialogue according to the specifics of the patient’s disorder. Advantageous in individual and group settings, CBT allows therapists to approach a problem from a variety of angles, including an emphasis on changing thought patterns or actual actions. CBT resulted from the marriage of behavior and cognitive therapies, which fundamentally address issues differently but both focus on alleviating current difficulties. Mary Cover Jones pioneered the field of behavioral therapy in the 1920s in order to assist children in unlearning their fears. In the late 1930s, Abraham Low began developing cognitive therapy for psychiatric patients in recovery.
Neither behavioral nor cognitive therapies became widely used until the latter half of the 20th century. Behavioral therapy innovators include Joseph Wolpe, who studied systematic desensitization; B. F. Skinner, who concentrated on radical behaviorism’s efficacy in treating chronic psychiatric problems; and Hans Eysenck, who developed behavioral therapy as an alternative to psychoanalysis. In the 1960s, Aaron T. Beck began laying the foundation of cognitive therapy, as he believed emotional reactions resulted from thoughts rather than being part of a theoretical psychoanalytical infrastructure. Many behavioral therapists eventually started adding cognitive dimensions to their techniques and the two systems slowly merged throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Mervin R. Smucker focuses on treating adult survivors of childhood trauma suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through Imagery Rescripting and Reprocessing Therapy (IRRT). This unique approach enables patients to mentally re-script and transform their recurring victimization imagery into empowering imagery. IRRT and other CBT techniques have proven strong tools in treating individuals with complex PTSD including those who have experienced Type II traumas. CBT is also widely recognized as one of the most effective methods for treating men and women with anxiety disorders and depression.