Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 July 2014
Important advances have been made in the field of cognitive therapy during the past 30 years, and numerous books have been published describing the application of these models to a range of clinical problems and populations. The ascent of cognitive therapy has been rapid and, in many ways, quite remarkable. It has become an integral part of training in psychiatry and clinical psychology, and has emerged as a dominant paradigm for understanding psychopathology and psychosocial intervention. Even a brief perusal of the contents of contemporary journals attests to the strength and breadth of these approaches.
How did this come about? Cognitive therapy emerged during the late 1950s and early 1960s as the result of the convergence of several historical trends (Mahoney, 1991; Clark and Beck, 1999; Dobson and Dozois, 2001). These included: (1) a growing recognition of the importance of information-processing models in linguistics and experimental cognitive psychology; (2) the publication of studies supporting mediational models of human adaptation, and the emergence of social learning theory as a paradigm for understanding the development of psychopathology; (3) a growing dissatisfaction with traditional drive models of human motivation and the dearth of empirical support for the effectiveness of psychodynamic forms of psychotherapy; and (4) a recognition of limits of classical behavioral models for understanding human development. Cognitive therapy emerged, then, in response to social needs, and as a result of a growing recognition of the limitations of existing models.