Cognitive psychotherapy offers various techniques to cope with emotional problems. This discipline is a significant part of modern psychology. Its theories and methods are applied by multiple specialists throughout the world. The main goal of this paper is to discuss the most effective cognitive approaches.
The client is a 25-year old male who complained of deep depression. He is focused on self-defeating thoughts that include different patterns. First, filtering is a way of thinking that is characterized by conclusions drawn from only the negative sides of a problem (Phillips, 2016). The client neglects all positive aspects, which forms a distorted picture. The outside world is perceived to be very dangerous and unwelcome (Burger, 2015). The patient thinks that he is worse than others, ignoring all his previous achievements. Second, the client makes conclusions that are based on wrong assumptions rather than evidence. Therefore, he deliberately or unintentionally avoids facts that contradict his position. Such a mindset manifests itself in self-defeating thoughts. For example, he thinks that he will not pass the upcoming exam. Another example, the client believes that his boss contemns him. Third, often self-defeating thoughts are based on overgeneralization (Phillips, 2016). The client tends to doubt all his skills, knowledge, or talents because of a single failure occurred in the past. For example, the patient is sure that his friend did not invite him to a party because the friend was angry at him. Moreover, he decided that he angered other people as well.
To address this problem, it is necessary to apply the principles of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. First, the patient should expand his focus. It implies looking for both positive and negative aspects and evidence. Especially, it is important to pay particular attention to successes and achievements that prove the patient’s skills and talents. Also, the patient has to think about events that made him proud of himself. Situations, when he received positive feedback from his colleagues or friends, can be very helpful. Second, the client should be specific. It is necessary to seek connections between the existing problems to explain them.
Cognition and Depression
The cognitive theory of depression states that the primary cause of this condition is negative thoughts. There is a direct connection between the time that a person spends on thinking about negative aspects of their lives and the severity of depressive symptoms (Nemade, n.d). Also, cognitive theoreticians highlight three major themes that make depression more intense. The first theme is inferiority. A person focuses on thoughts about their insufficient skills or inadequate reactions (Burger, 2015). The second theme is negative expectations. A person thinks that all their endeavors will fail. Therefore, the third theme is a hopeless future. Most people who suffer from depression have some of these thoughts. Such a way of thinking often leads to the conclusion that negative situations will happen again and again. Therefore, the future becomes hopeless. Eventually, these judgments result in depression.
Another important aspect that the cognitive theory describes is that people with depression tend to neglect events and thoughts that contradict their negative perceptions. Therefore, they seek evidence that fuels their pessimism. This phenomenon is known as faulty information processing.
However, other theories explain the causes of depression. The biological theory states this disorder involves structural, functional, and molecular changes in some areas of the brain (McLeod, 2015). Another theory is the learning theory of depression. This theory highlights the tendency to copy role models (McLeod, 2015). It demonstrates the connection between behavioral patterns and external factors.
It is difficult to explain such a complex condition which is depression. The above-mentioned theories are very different, though each of them might be partially correct. However, I believe that the cognitive theory provides an explanation that helps to address the problem more effectively than others. In most cases, depression develops from pessimistic thoughts. That is why to improve this condition, it is necessary to apply methods described by the cognitive theory.
George Kelly’s Personal Construct Theory
Personal construct theory provides a systematic description of personality relevant for psychotherapy. It was developed by an American psychologist George Kelly (“The psychology of personal constructs,” n.d.). This theory is applied in multiple areas such as education, management, or business. However, the main focus of the personal construct theory is on individuals and society. The theory explains how people develop their views of themselves and the outside world. It states that individuals try to find explanations of all the issues existing in their lives to designing a model that will guide them in the future. Such models called constructs, and they remind scientific theories. These constructs are based on observation and experiments. Therefore, such models become more stable over time as people find more evidence that reinforces their theories. Very often constructs can be difficult to explain due to the complexity of their structure and the number of the involved elements. If a construct cannot be formulated, it might lead to negative states, for example, fear or frustration. Another important aspect of this theory is that each construct generates the opposite one. For example, a positive model always implies the existence of a negative model.
A self-schema is a world view that is based on social stereotypes. Individuals have various ideas or beliefs that explain other people’s behaviors as well as their ones. Schemas are cognitive structures that people use to describe different issues in their lives (“Self schema,” n.d). However, schemas that are used by individuals to describe themselves are called self-schemas. Such concepts reflect how people perceive themselves and what they expect to think or feel in a particular situation. They depend on experience in similar situations. For example, if a person gave a public speech, and it roused fear or anxiety, they will be sure that the next time, under similar circumstances, they will experience the same feelings. Some other stereotypes that self-schemas include relate to physical characteristics, interests, personality traits, or behaviors. Every person has their self-schemas. For example, I perceive myself very confident. However, when it comes to meeting new people, I become shy and introverted. Although my self-esteem is quite healthy, I know that the next time I have to introduce myself, I will feel uncomfortable.
General Model of Aggression
The General Aggression Model (GAM) is an elaborate concept that describes the nature of aggression. It demonstrates the connection between social, developmental, personality, and biological aspects and aggression (Benjamin, n.d.). This model explains how internal and external factors influence personal feelings, mental conditions, and eventually, behaviors. The GAM is used by many specialists to understand the causes of aggression in various contexts such as domestic violence or the effect of violence in media. The model highlights two basic factors of any individual act of aggression: situational and individual (Benjamin, n.d.). Situational factors include different types of provocations such as offense or failures. On the other hand, individual factors include cognitive, psychological, and effective.
There are different models of aggression that have both similar and different elements. For example, the social reversal response model also describes situational triggers. However, it emphasizes that aggression often occurs as a response to the aggression of another person. Another example is the deprivation model. Again, a similar element is that aggressive behaviors take place due to external factors. However, this model specifies that aggression is often caused by the feeling of loneliness or isolation.
The Most Significant Theory in Determining Personality
Among all the theories that were discussed throughout the course, I believe that George Kelly’s construct theory determines personalities best. This concept is the most comprehensive. Kelly demonstrated that all people develop individual models that explain every aspect of their lives (Burger, 2015). As such models are based on personal observations and experiences, they have the most significant impact on the development of individual perceptions. Although other theories provide practical methods to address problems related to different emotional and mental conditions, they are more specific and cannot be applied to the majority of cases. However, George Kelly’s model offers more general approaches. The main idea of his theory is that different people might have different interpretations of the same event. The way people experience the world depends on multiple personal constructs. Other theories do not fully explain this important aspect. However, in my opinion, the inability to comprehend other people’s views is the root cause of most problems that occur in society. That is why this theory deserves particular attention.
Many cognitive approaches help to deal with various mental conditions. The theories developed within this field describe all aspects of people’s personalities and behaviors. However, due to the complexity of issues related to this area, it is necessary to apply different methods, depending on the individual circumstances in each case.
Benjamin, A. (n.d.). The general aggression model as a framework for understanding torture and genocide. Web.
Burger, J., (2015). Personality (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
McLeod, S. (2015). Psychological theories of depression. Web.
Nemade, R. (n.d.). Cognitive theories of depression – Aaron Beck. Web.
Phillips, D. (2016). How to curb self-defeating habits. Web.
The psychology of personal constructs. (n.d.). Web.
Self schema. (n.d.). Web.