Cognitive-behavioural therapy and social work practice

Authored by: A. Antonio Gonzalez-Prendes , C. M. Cassady

The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Theory

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415793438
eBook ISBN: 9781315211053
Adobe ISBN:


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Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a system of psychotherapies that integrate behavioural and cognitive theories and therapies. CBT is not a single approach to psychotherapy. Rather, CBT is an umbrella under which one finds various evidenced-based approaches and strategies to work with individuals, groups, couples and families. Some of these approaches (e.g. contingency management, systematic desensitization) emphasize the behavioural aspects of CBT while others (e.g. cognitive therapy, rational emotive-behaviour therapy, self-instructional training) emphasize the cognitive aspects. CBT approaches rest on the fundamental principle that cognitive processes (e.g. appraisals, meanings, judgements, assumptions) associated with life events are the primary, although not the only, determinants of one’s emotional and behavioural responses to those events. Other factors such as illnesses, injuries, exposure to environmental toxins and cultural norms and display rules may influence how one expresses emotions and behaviours. Consequently, even though in CBT cognitions may play a primary role in this process, it is important that we recognize that human problems are often complex and multi-layered. For this reason, Greenberger and Padesky (2017) suggest that to get an accurate understanding of a presenting problem, we must consider the reciprocal interaction that takes place between thoughts, moods, behaviours, physical reactions and environmental factors.

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