Infographic of the 3 C's of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT

The History of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Pioneered in the 1960s by University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Dr. Aaron T. Beck, cognitive behavioral therapy is “a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel.”1


CBT grew out of what became known as the “cogntive revolution,” a movement that began in the 1950s centered around developing testable inferences about human mental processes.

Psychologist Steven Pinker identified five key ideas that made up the cognitive revolution in his 2002 book, The Blank Slate:

1. The mental world can be grounded in the physical world by the concepts of information, computation, and feedback.

2. The mind cannot be a blank slate because blank slates don’t do anything.

3. An infinite range of behavior can be generated by finite combinatorial programs in the mind.

4. Universal mechanisms can underlie superficial variation across cultures.

5. The mind is a complex system composed of many interacting parts.

While testing psychoanalytic concepts of depression — Dr. Beck’s research showed the opposite of what he expected. Looking for other ways to understand depression, he found that sufferers experienced “streams of negative thoughts that seemed to arise spontaneously.” He called these “automatic thoughts.” The automatic thoughts of his test subjects fell into three categories — themselves, the world, and the future.

“CBT represents a combination of behavioral and cognitive theories of human behavior and psychopathology, and a melding of emotional, familial, and peer influences. The numerous intervention strategies that comprise CBT reflect its complex and integrative nature and include such topics as extinction, habituation, modeling, cognitive restructuring, problem-solving, and the development of coping strategies, mastery, and a sense of self-control.” [1]

In laymen’s terms, CBT is an evidence-backed approach for treating a variety of different psychological and behavioral disorders. It has risen to prominence as a treatment approach not from anectodal experiences, but rather from numerous peer reviewed scientific studies analyzing its efficacy.

Behavioral therapists encourage clients to try new behaviors and not to allow negative “rewards” to dictate the ways in which they act. Thoughts influence feelings. One’s emotional response to a situation comes from one’s interpretation of the situation.

Since it’s inception, CBT has been further refined as it’s been implemented as a treatment approach for millions of people worldwide. Treating a variety of issues from anxiety to tinnitus, it’s wide range of uses is part of what makes it so popular.


Here at the Lukin Center, we offer cognitive behavioral therapy in New Jersey to our clients at both our Ridgewood and Hoboken offices. Our team of licensed psychologists has years of experience and are always here to help.