The cognitivists treatments are based on changing faulty thinking and behaviour. The two main treatments offered are: cognitive behavioural therapy and stress inoculation therapy.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

The therapy aims to reduce negative, irrational thoughts and replace them with a more positive pattern of thinking. It also maintains that to change the attitude of the person you need to change both some of the cognitive biases as well as the behaviour as the behaviour maintains and reinforces faulty thinking.

  • The therapist will break the treatment down into measurable goals which involves challenging the client’s beliefs to make them see they are irrational. This results in a change in behaviour causing a change in thinking also.
  • For example, they may start with getting the client to do small tasks such as making a cup of tea then eventually get them to carry out a task for work.
  • For the therapy to work in the long term you need to change both the thinking and the behaviour.
  • Strength- it has diverse applications as it has helped to reduce delusions in schizophrenics.
  • Strength- it is the most widely used therapy by clinical psychologists within the NHS.
  • Strength- it empowers the client by educating them in self help strategies and therefore they do not become dependent on the therapist.
  • Weakness- it does not address any underlying causes of the problem.

Stress Inoculation Therapy

The aim of this treatment is to deal with the stress before it causes either psychological or physical problems. It is a prevention rather than a cure.

  • The therapy is broken down into three stages: assessment, stress reduction techniques and application and follow through.
  1. Assessment involves discussing the nature of the problem allowing the therapist to make an action plan.
  2. The client is then taught stress reduction techniques such as relaxation and positive self instruction such as “I can do this” to use when they feel they are starting the get stressed.
  3. Finally the therapist will apply the treatment to real life by role playing with the client situations where they are likely to get stressed. The client will then follow through with the techniques in their everyday life.
  • Weakness- can only be used for minor mental health problems.
  • Weakness- it is highly simplistic and people may lie about how effective the therapy is.