Cognitive Counseling Research Proposal

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Cognitive Counseling

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What is It?

Cognitive counseling, as defined by most of the experts in the field, consists of a therapy which emphasizes observing and managing a person's thought patterns. It focuses on decreasing negative thinking to the point that the basic thought patterns change to result in more positive feelings. The therapy also attempts to alter the "tone of voice" the individual uses for thinking.

That our thoughts are bonded to our emotions or feelings is the basis of cognitive therapy. There are four defined cognitive therapies: Cognitive-Behavioral, Rational-Emotive, Reality, and Transactional Analysis. Counselors in these fields help patients (or clients) to clarify their distorted thinking and to solve every-day practical problems, especially those that cause emotional discomfort. The roots of problems are not emphasized strongly, but, instead, their present-day thinking, because that is what causes them their suffering.

These variants of an approach to therapy involve some common traits to include: the tendency for the therapy to be of short duration, a mutual, shared relationship between the patient and the counselor, and homework between therapy sessions. This field of therapy is best-suited to handle anxiety, anger and mild depression problems.

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The "behavioral" part of cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the idea that experience gives us our primary learning. The therapy attempts to assist the client to analyze his or her behavior, define their problems, and choose some goals.

This therapy incorporates behavioral experiments, role-playing, homework, assertiveness training, and self-management training. It, like cognitive, includes a collaborative relationship between client and therapist and is also, usually, of short duration (Counseling Approaches).

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Cognitive Counseling Assignment

This field of therapy also assists the client to understand their unhealthy thoughts and the way they keep the individual stuck. Negative thoughts are identified such as: "I never do anything right," or "If I don't succeed all the time, I am a failure."

If the therapy is somewhat successful, the results should be that the client's thoughts change and that leads them to different, more positive behaviors. Hopefully, self-esteem and confidence are improved as well.

Over hundreds of clinical trials, for many different health problems and disorders, this form of therapy is one of the few that has really been "reality" tested and found successful. We will discuss cognitive behavioral in detail later.

All cognitive therapies, in contrast to other forms of psychotherapy, are usually more pointed toward the present, more time-limited, and more problem-solving oriented. Most of what the client does is solve existing problems. In addition, they learn abilities they can use forever. The skills they learn involve identifying their own distorted thinking, modifying beliefs, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors.

Cognitive Therapy History

Cognitive therapy, though founded in this century, has its roots under other names and in previous centuries.

During the late 1800s, doctors, neurologists and psychiatrists surmised that the mind rotated around the brain -- that is, it was the brain, that physical part of our central nervous system located within the skull -- that was the seat of the mind. The mind has been defined as "the human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination, i.e. The collective conscious and unconscious processes that direct and influence mental and physical behavior (American Heritage Dictionary).

It was proposed back then that mental states could affect physical function. In the 1870s, G.M. Beard, M.D., read a paper at the American Neurological Association. It related to the causes and cures of disease, and discussed the influence of the mind on that activity. He said back then precisely what cognitive therapy proves today, that the impact on humans brought about by emotions, in a systematic way, were as permanent as those brought about through medicine. Most of Beard's colleagues of the day did not accept his views.

Also in that same timeframe of the 1870s, the American Journal of Insanity (AJI) published a paper by J.Tobey, M.D., that talked about the influence of the doctor or psychiatrist to excite the mental state "which acts beneficially on the body."

Over the next thirty years, others joined in the chorus. Most notably, in 1901, Richard Dewey, M.D., published a paper in the AJI titled "Mental Therapeutics in Nervous and Mental Diseases." He wrote, "The so-called functional nervous diseases are strikingly affected by mental influences.... Often a long course of training and practice in substituting safe expectations for fear and apprehension [is needed].[T]he cure consists of a process of rebuilding in the patient healthful lines of thought and association and of forming new habits of thought and action by a process [like] education." Dewey's colleagues supported his views (Ozarin).

These ideas were further developed by John Whitehorn, M.D., who followed Meyer at Johns

Hopkins (1941-1960). He noted that the way he talked with patients differed from that of other psychiatrists. Basic to his approach was the premise that individuals react to other people and situations in a learned manner that depends on the "attitudes and sentiments" by which they establish relationships and negotiate in interpersonal transactions. He advocated a therapy promoting learning that builds a patient's expectations about his or her ability to deal with anxiety-provoking situations. The therapist guides the patient in a collaborative process to correct misperceptions, assume more realistic attitudes, and seek solutions to deal with disturbing people and situations (Ozarin).

Dr. Aaron Beck

Finally, dissatisfied with the more conventional paths to psychotherapy, Dr. Aaron Beck began developing the field of cognitive therapy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in the 1970s.

As a part of his study, anger issues in the dreams of depressed patients were what Beck was looking for. He saw that more than self-anger was a partiality within his patient's self-analysis of their dreams. From this breakthrough Beck developed his wide-ranging theory and treatment of depression.

From Beck's research, he contended: people with emotional difficulties tend to commit characteristic "logical errors" which slant objective reality to the path of self-deprecation. Beck challenged the notion that depression results from anger which is then turned inward. Beck also challenged the idea of having the focus on the content of the depressive's negative thinking and biased interpretation of events (Beck).

To focus on the content, Beck's approach to the treatment of depression consists of placing a heavy emphasis on core beliefs. A key factor of this therapeutic process involves restructuring distorted beliefs which have a pivotal impact on changing dysfunctional behaviors (Melton).

Cognitive behavior therapists place a heavy emphasis on examining cognitions among individual family members as well as on the family beliefs. With this serious emphasis on relationships, Beck's belief is: therapeutic sessions typically have the therapist take the lead.

The therapist helps the client make a list of his/her responsibilities, set priorities, and develop a realistic plan of action. Therapists also use cognitive rehearsal techniques to identify and change negative thoughts. Cognitive therapy perceives psychological problems as stemming from commonplace processes such as faulty thinking, failing to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and making incorrect inferences on the basis of inadequate or incorrect information.

By changing thinking, behavior, and emotional responses, therapists assist clients in overcoming challenges and difficulties. If the client can learn to combat self-doubts in the therapy session, he/she may be able to apply their newly acquired cognitive and behavioral skills in real-life settings (Melton).

Beck's cognitive therapy consists of the many approaches lessoning psychological suffering through therapy. Therapy aids in helping clients self-signal to correct faulty conceptions. This decisive approach permits the therapist and practitioner to value the integrative nature of cognitive behavior therapy.

Universities and colleges across the globe launched a rigorous investigation of the field at that time, and continuing today. It is now, along with its "brother" variations, one of the most popular, most widely researched and practiced of the modern-age psychotherapies (Melton).

During these thirty-plus years, an enormous amount of research supports the affectivity of cognitive therapies for depression, anxiety and a long list of further mental problems. As a matter of fact, studies done indicate that this form of therapy is as good for patients with depression as is antidepressant medication, and the results are that the depression is less likely to recur.

Then there are all the side effects that the antidepressant involves, which the therapy does not entail. However, sometimes with more severe symptoms, patients are given counseling as well as medication, and some milder side effects may occur.

Other disorders that may be treated with some form of cognitive therapy include:

generalized anxiety, panic, social anxiety, obsessions, worry, & phobias; couples, marital, divorce, and loneliness problems; relapse prevention for substance abuse; eating disorders;

sexual dysfunction; and medical disorders affected by psychological problems, such as insomnia, chronic pain, GI problems, headaches, and high blood pressure.


The way we perceive situations influences how we feel. That is the cognitive concept upon which cognitive therapy is based. For example, one person reading… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Cognitive Counseling" Research Proposal in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Cognitive Counseling.  (2009, May 18).  Retrieved September 17, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Cognitive Counseling."  18 May 2009.  Web.  17 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Cognitive Counseling."  May 18, 2009.  Accessed September 17, 2021.