Brief History of Psychology Review


Cognitive therapy aspire to assist a person to be aware of distortions in thoughts which is causing the person psychological anguish, and also be aware of behavioral patterns that are strengthening it, and be able to correct this. The cognitive therapist will try very hard to comprehend experiences based on the person’s viewpoint, and both the person and the therapist will work together in an experimental spirit, like scientists, investigating the person’s thoughts, inferences and assumptions.

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The cognitive therapist assists the person to learn how to test these experiments through checking them alongside reality and besides other assumptions. Cognitive therapy has developed very much over the last fifty years. This paper will examine the history of cognitive therapy focusing on the main contributes of the therapy and different approaches of the therapy.


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is broadly classified among psychotherapy; several approaches to CBT also are classified under this field. This includes Rational Emotive Behavior (REB), Rational Behavior Therapy (RBT), Cognitive Therapy, Rational living Therapy (RLT) and Dialectical Behavior. Each of these approaches has its own history. According to historical facts, CBT approach was developed by Albert Ellis in the mid 1950s, the development came about as a response to in-directive and in-efficient of psychoanalysis. Cognitive behavior therapies are in fact a grouping of contemporary related therapies which are the very first scientific based (empirical) psychotherapies. (Stuart 1996)

Fundamental Theory of Cognitive Therapy

The critical approach of cognitive therapy as formerly formulated over the past three decades is that thoughts intercede amid stimuli, for instance outer events, and emotions. As shown in the diagram below, a stimulus brings forth a thought — which may be some kind of an evaluative judgment – that in turn leads to some kind of emotion. That is to say that, stimulus alone does not lead to emotional response; it is evaluation of that stimulus or thinking about it that elicits the response. (Some of CT practitioners use Ellis’s ABC concept, to explain the part of thoughts or approaches mediating amid events and a person’s emotional responses.) (Stuart 1996)

Two secondary assumptions underline the approach that cognitive therapist will take

  1. A person is able of becoming conscious of his/her individual thoughts and being able to change them,
  2. At times the thoughts which are elicited by stimuli distort o or else fail to reveal reality accurately.
The response after stimulus.
Diagram I showing the response after stimulus (Stuart 1996).

An ordinary “daily example” of different thoughts or attitudes about the similar occurrence and their ensuing emotions may be a satiation where an individual is turned down for employment. He/she may believe that he/she was denied the employment opportunity because he/she was basically incompetent. In such a case, he/she may become dejected, and the person may less likely apply for the same job in the future. But, contra, if the person believed that he/she did not get the job because the number of interested candidates was extremely strong, the person may feel disappointed however he/she will not be depressed, furthermore the experience possibly wouldn’t deter the person from applying for new similar jobs. (Stuart 1996)

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Rational Emotive Therapy in the mid-1950’s

REBT was initially called “Rational Therapy”, shortly it changed to ‘Rational-Emotive Therapy’ and again early on 1990’s to “Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy”. REBT is among of a number of “cognitive-behavioral” therapies, that even though developed independently, it has a lot of similarities – for example Cognitive Therapy (CT), formulated by Psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the 1960’s. and CT and REBT collectively form the foundation of the family of psychotherapies approach identified as “Cognitive-Behavior Therapy” Over the last 50 years, REBT has changed significantly, and continues to undergo change. (Altrows, 2002)

Albert Ellis’s rational emotive therapy

Rational emotive therapy developed by Albert Ellis in 1960s was a significant precursor to Beck’s earlier work and to the cognitive-revolution. Ellis, who was initially a psychoanalytically-based sex and marriage analyst, gave a proposal that pathology was totally due to illogical distortions such as “should” for example “I should be successful at everything” or “I should have gotten that job,” or “awful” for example “It’s awful that I failed” and also low frustration acceptance for example “I can’t stand this long”. Though each cognitive therapist is indebted to Albert Ellis his contributions in the field, however, Ellis work didn’t have as a lot of impact as Beck’s contributions on clinical research and training. This is attributed to a several factors:

  1. Ellis was not part of an educational or medical institution training facility, thus he lacked the powers that others may had
  2. Ellis’s concept is a general concept which appears to condense all of psychopathology to a small number of cognitive distortions and “shoulds”. In disparity, Beck’s concept permits therapists to look at particular cognitive distortions and offer different schemas for every diagnostic category, a factor which is of substantial meaning to a theory of psychopathology.
  3. Ellis’s work rarely draws on the substantial research available on cognitive and social psychology.

In spite of these differences, Albert Ellis and his colleagues have continued to have considerable influence in the field of cognitive-behavior therapy. (Altrows, 2002)

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (in the 1990’s)

Even though cognitive therapy was in the beginning a concept of depression, cognitive therapy has continued to enjoy great success through out the past decade for a diversity of other disorders. Presently there are efficient cognitive-behavioral concepts for treatment of panic disorder, general anxiety, social phobia, childhood depression, anger (marital conflict, substance abuse, borderline personality and a range of other personality disorders (DiGiuseppe, 1996) The present context of medical practice in the America seems to be taking a direction towards a more “eclecticism” where by many therapists integrate some cognitive behavioral ideologies in their work (DiGiuseppe, 1996)

The Objectives of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The central objective of REBT is to leave a person after completing his/her therapy with enough freedom make a choice of their emotions, behaviors and also lifestyle (using social, physical and economic restraints); and leave the person with a way of self-observation coupled by personal change which will assists individuals uphold their gains. (Keller, et al. 2000)

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Another objective of REBT to offer education and collaboration between a client and the therapist, clients are able to study the therapy and have know-how on using it themselves. The therapist does provide the training while the client undertakes it out. REBT has no hidden agendas as all dealings are plainly explained to a person or the client. The therapist and also client together formulate homework assignments. (Keller, et al. 2000)

Grandfather: Albert Ellis

Albert Ellis (1913 – 2007) was well known an American psychologist who created Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy in 1955. He had Masters and doctorate degrees in field of clinical psychology from Columbia University. Albert Ellis founded and was the Head of the “New York City-based Albert Ellis Institute”. Albert Ellis is normally considered as the “grandfather” of cognitive-behavioral therapies according a 1982 experts survey of America and Canadian psychologists, he was seen as among the most influential psychotherapists in modern history. (Ellis, 2004)

By 1953 Ellis broke with psychoanalysis, and began referring to himself as a rational therapist. He was at that time campaigning for a fresh more dynamic and directive style of psychotherapy. In1955 Ellis named his new approach as “Rational Therapy” (RT). Rational Therapy made it necessary that a therapist assist the client understand and be able to take action on his understanding. That the client’s personal thinking holds beliefs which lead to client’s own emotional pain, the new approach emphasized actively working in order to modify a client’s own-defeating behaviors and beliefs through indicating their rigidity and irrationality.

Ellis linked every aspect to these central part irrational attitudes such as “I must be successful” and “I must be liked by everybody”. He believed that by rational analysis, individuals can be able to understand their mistakes in light of the main irrational attitudes and then build a more rational point.

Even though Ellis’ approach stressed cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes, his tough cognitive emphasis irritated almost every person with the likely exemption of the followers of Alfred Adler. (Ellis, 2004)

John Dollard

John Dollard was good a psychologist and a social scientist; he greatly researched on the race relationship in America. Dollard was born in 1900; in 1931he received a Ph.D. in field of sociology from the University of Chicago. In 1932 Yale University Institute of Human Relations selected Dollard as a research associate in faculty of psychology. A number of Dollard’s greatest work was done in this university. Dollard and Neal Miller another psychologist conducted a research which was named “Fear and Courage under Battle Conditions” during that time Dollard was working as an advisor for the United States Department.

The research study examined the fear and also moral of soldiers who were in contemporary combat conditions. At the same time, 300 war veterans had volunteered to work with Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spanish Civil War were also used as in the study. Dollard was able to give a summary of his findings in a book titled “Fear in Battle” published in 1944. Principally, the handbook was meant for the military. Dollard also was a learning philosopher who made great contribution to social psychology. He examined cultural diversity in behavior; he came up with an explanation for hostile behavior named the “frustration-aggression hypothesis”. (Samuels, 1998)

Neal Miller

Neal E. Miller (1909,-2002) was another American psychologist. Miller was born in1909 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He got his B.S. degree from Washington University in 1931, and his masters from Stanford University. Miller got his Ph.D. degree in the field of Psychology from Yale University in 1935. Miller was at one time a social science researcher at Institute of Psychoanalysis in Vienna. Miller was at Yale University for thirty years (1936-1966), there he became Professor of Psychology, and he also was a professor at Rockefeller University (1966-1981) prior to becoming a Professor at Rockefeller. Miller was influential in the advancement of biofeedback.

He made a discovery that also the autonomic nervous system can be vulnerable to conventional conditioning. Miler together with Donald helped to integrate psychoalytic concepts in psychology. (Samuels, 1998)

Joseph Wolpe

Joseph Wolpe (1915 – 1997) comes from Johannesburg, South Africa and was born in 1915; however, he got an American citizenship later on in his life. Wolpe is well known for formulating what is currently called as “systematic desensitization”. Wolpe developed this treatment as a consequence of Wolpe’s translational study with fearful animals. According to Wolpe, systematic desensitization entails the imaginary experience to a dreaded stimulus whilst simultaneously giving relaxation. Alongside with Arnold Lazarus Wolpe is considered to be among the founders of behavior therapy. He was a professor of psychiatry at Temple University Medical School as from 1965 to 1988. One of Wolpe’s well known books is “The Practice of Behavior Therapy” (Samuels, 1998)

George Kelly

George Kelly was born in 1905 near Kansas. He started practicing physiological psychology at fort hays Kansas state college. During the period of depression he opened a clinic to assist the poor farming families in Kansas, mostly his clients were farm laborers

At the beginning, Kelly applied the typical Freudian training that every psychology doing masters received during that time. He let his client who mainly farm works lie on the couch to free themselves and tell him their imaginings. When Kelly observed resistances or signs of sexuality and aggressive wants, he would patiently communicate his views to them. Kelly thought it surprising on how eagerly these relatively simple individuals received these accounts of their tribulations.

Certainly, due to their culture, the typical Freudian interpretations ought to look terribly bizarre? Instead, they put their trust in him, the professional. Out of these insights, Kelly used insight to develop his philosophy and theory. His philosophy he refereed to as “constructive alternativism”. Constructive alternativism is the ideology that, whilst there is true reality is only one, reality is at all times experienced through one perspective or another, what is termed as alternative construction. (Altrows, 2002)

Aaron T. Beck

Becker was a local of Providence in Rhode Island; Beck was interested in the human nature from the beginning. Nevertheless, Beck did not follow this interest until later on in his professional career. After graduating in 1942, Beck had to embark on a profession in medicine at Yale Medical School where he graduated in 1946. He worked as an internship, then as a residency in the pathology section at Rhode Island Hospital. Though at first he was fascinated with psychiatry, Beck found the methods at Medical School to be hard and not rewarding thus decided on a neurology career.

Beck’s groundbreaking systematic research in psychotherapy recognized initially the effectiveness of some psychotherapy for depression treatment. Beck not only formulated and also tested an effectual quick-fix depression (cognitive therapy) treatment, but Beck and his previous students have fruitfully tailored cognitive therapy to a broad range of some other psychiatric disorders. (Altrows, 2002)

Dr Maxie Maultsby, Jr., M.D

Dr Maxie Maultsby, Jr., M.D is a well known internationally highly praised psychiatrist; he is also a Professor of Psychiatry at Howard University.

Dr. Maultsby developed the self-help psychotherapy named “Rational Behavior Therapy” (RBT). Maultsby ha s written many books and self-help products, these includes the well-liked book titled “Coping Better, Anytime, Anywhere, The Handbook of Rational Self-Counseling|. Dr. Maultsby received the NACBT’s in 1998 which is a very important Life achievement honor for his exceptional contributions to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. Currently Dr. Maultsby is a consultant to the “National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists”. (Altrows, 2002)

Arnold A. Lazarus

Arnold A. Lazarus was born in 1923, he joined Rutgers faculty in 1972 as Professor, before Lazarus taught at Stanford University and Temple University Medical School, and Yale University. Lazarus has received many credits and awards which include the illustrious Service honor from the American Board of Professional Psychology; the illustrious Psychologist Award from APA’s Division of Psychotherapy and many others. Dr. Lazarus is a previous president of a number of professional bodies and societies and is a member of the APA. (Gould, 1991)

Lazarus is a pioneer figure in modern psychological therapy field, Lazarus originated the name “Behavior Therapy” in the professional books and he went on to formulate Multimodal Therapy that has been accepted as one of the most efficient models of cognitive-behavior therapy. Lazarus has written 18 books on different topics in psychology. (BMA, 2004)

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT.) this is an approach of psychosocial treatment formulated by Marsha M. Linehan. It is specifically meant to treat people who have “borderline personality disorder”. Though DBT was intended for people with borderline personality disorder, currently it is also applied to patients with some other diagnoses as well. Dialectical behavioral therapy treatment is founded mainly in behaviorist theory and on some cognitive therapy essentials also. Contra to cognitive therapy it includes mindfulness approach as a central constituent of the therapy. There are two vital parts of the (DBT.) treatment, individual component, and the group component. (BMA, 2004)

Self-control strategies

Self-control strategies; these are cognitive and behavioral abilities which are utilized by a person to uphold self-motivation in order to realize personal goals. At first the abilities can be learned through a therapist, textbook, or self-assist book. Though, the Person is accountable for using these abilities in real-life circumstances to produce the preferred changes. There are several self-control strategies. Further terms for self-control strategies are “behavioral self-control training”, “cognitive self-regulation”, and “self-management” techniques. In current times, the term “self-management” is much used. (BMA, 2004)

Schema-Focused Cognitive

This is a Cognitive Therapy with an integrative approach of treatment which entails the good aspects of cognitive-behavioral which are psychoanalytic, experiential, and interpersonal therapies into a unified approach. Schema-Focused Therapy has revealed extraordinary results in assisting people to alter negative behaviors (“maladaptive”) that they have stayed with for a very long time, when other approaches and efforts first tried before had been basically unsuccessful. Schema-Focused approach was a development of Dr. Jeff Young, who initially worked directly with Dr. Aaron Beck, founder of Cognitive Therapy. (Samuels, 1998)


Cognitive therapy (or cognitive behavioral therapy) assists the person to unearth and adjust distortions of perceptions or thought that may be the cause to a prolonging psychological suffering. The main purpose is not to correct all distortion in a person’s complete outlook – since, nearly every person distorts reality in one way or another – only those people who are at the core of distress are the one who needs therapy. Ellis is attributed as the grandfather of cognitive therapy, however over time different psychologist have also made a lot of contribution to the field, psychologist like John Dollard, Miller, Beck others remain important names in the filed. Yet again more work is expected as this field remains dynamic.

Annotated bibliography

BMA (2004): British National Formulary, 44. London: British Medical Association and the Royal psychology Society of Great Britain.

This journal is published after each six months, in September and also in March (volume 48 is September 2004), the British National Formulary is the main psychology reference used all through the UK. Not considering the theoretical orientation or specific views about the “psychology model” of psychological distress, each psychotherapist is encouraged to have this journal in the UK. The journal has insight on different issues concerning psychology. British medical association is a reputed medical body that offers well researched articles and journals.

Gould, S J (1991): “Exaptation”: A Crucial Tool for an Evolutionary Psychology. Journal of Social Issues 47.

Principally an historical abstract and at the present familiar illumination of Gould’s approach, this journal would be less fascinating if it did not include a very interesting summary of important criticisms of cognitive psychology and their particular rebuttals.

This journal gives a comprehensive history on different contribution of prominent psychologists. The journal highlights the contributions of Dr Ellis as the father of cognitive therapy; it also reviews Marie C. Maultsby, Jr. a student of Ellis, and observes that he developed “Rational Behavior Therapy”. Further the journal analysis other psychologist and their major contributions. This journal is a good source for information on psychology as it is written by reputed authors has who have a good background and understanding of the field.

Keller, M. et al. (2000): A Comparison of Nefazodone, the Cognitive Behavioral-Analysis System of Psychotherapy, and Their Combination for the Treatment of Chronic Depression. New England Journal of Medicine.

This paper outlines that cognitive and behavioral psychotherapies are a variety of therapies having a base on principles and concepts resulting from psychological models of human behavior and emotion. They comprise a wide variety of treatment approaches for human emotional disorders, alongside a range from structured specific psychotherapy to assist the person. The journal is from a respected research institution and it’s highly regarded.

Stuart-H, I. (1996): Dictionary of Cognitive Psychology, Revised Edition. London: Jessica Kingsley.

This slender dictionary is not anticipated to present in-depth analysis of the field of psychology, however it makes an excellent beginning on a very wide variety of topics and it is very helpful to those people branching out to psychology and reading unfamiliar sections of cognition. Stuart has a good understanding of psychology and offers a good base for learners

Ziegler, D.J. (2003): The concept of psychological health in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy; Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy.

Aimed at the undergraduate level, this journal provides a lot of information and offers a, thoroughly-referenced sound grounding in psychology especially cognitive science, cognitive psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. The journal has good vision, attention, perception, language, reasoning, emotions, creativity, and more. More so the journal offers a basic explanation about the field of psychology, it promises to be a challenge for a reader concerned with understanding cognitive psychology

Other Reference

Abramson, L., S, M. & Teasdale, J. (1978): Learned Helplessness in Humans: Critique and Reformulation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87.

Altrows, I. F. (2002): Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavior Therapy with Adult Male Offenders; Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behaviors Therapy.

Ellis, A. (2004): Why Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is the most comprehensive and effective form behavioral therapy for schizophrenia; Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. 18(4).

Ellis, A. (1976): The biological basis of human irrationality; Journal of Individual Psychology. 32.

DiGiuseppe, R. (1996): The nature of irrational and rational beliefs; Progress in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy; Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive Behavior Therapy. 14(1).

Samuels, R (1998): Evolutionary Psychology and the Massive Modularity Hypothesis; British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49.

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