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History of
 Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a general classification of psychotherapy, and several approaches to CBT fall within this classification, including Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Rational Behavior Therapy, Rational Living Therapy, Schema Focused Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  Each approach has its own developmental history.  The following is a generally accepted accounting of the history of CBT.

The first discrete, intentionally therapeutic approach to CBT to be developed was Rational Emotive Therapy (RET), which was originated by Albert Ellis, Ph.D. in the mid-1950's.  Ellis developed his approach in reaction to his disliking of the in-efficient and in-directive nature of Psychoanalysis.  The philosophic origins of RET go back to the Stoic philosophers, including Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius.  Epictetus wrote in The Enchiridion, "Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them."   The modern psychotherapist most influential to the development of RET was Alfred Adler (who developed Individual Psychology).  Adler, a neo-Freudian, stated, "I am convinced that a person's behavior springs from his ideas."  Ellis was also influenced by behaviorists, such as John Dollard, Neal Miller, and Joseph Wolpe, and George Kelly (psychology of personal constructs). 

Ellis developed and popularized the ABC model of emotions, and later modified the model to the A-B-C-D-E approach.  In the 1990's Ellis renamed his approach Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.

In the 1960's, Aaron Beck, M.D. developed his approach called Cognitive Therapy.  Beck's approach became known for its effective treatment of depression.

Also in the 1960's Maxie C. Maultsby, Jr., M.D. (a student of Ellis') developed Rational Behavior Therapy.   Maultsby's contributions were numerous, including his emphasis on client rational self-counseling skills and therapeutic homework.  Maultsby's contributions included his concept of "thought shorthand", to which he refers as "attitudes", Rational Emotive Imagery, Rational Self-Analysis, and the Five Criteria for Rational Behavior.

Other influential theorists / practitioners include Michael Mahoney, Ph.D., Donald Meichenbaum, Ph.D. (Stress Inoculation Therapy) and David Burns, M.D.

David Burns, M.D. popularized CBT with his 1980's best-selling book, Feeling Good.

More recently, cognitive-behavioral therapy has been influenced by the work of Aldo Pucci, Psy.D. (Rational Living Therapy), Michael Mahoney, Ph.D., Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., Arthur Freeman, Ed.D.

© Copyright, 2008, by the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists.


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