The Problem with Cognitive Therapy
The problem with Cognitive Therapy is… well… the therapy. If someone needs cognitive therapy how do you know the therapist and the curriculum he/she is using is able to change faulty thinking errors and self-defeating behaviors? There are thousands of therapists each with their own interpretations and curriculum. Few if any are evidence based with proof that what they are using is correct and highly effective. Almost any counseling program can claim it is cognitive therapy, but few if any can prove it works.
In a sense cognitive therapy is a misnomer. The definition of therapy is the treatment of illness or disability. The use of cognitive therapy in mental illness is largely ineffective because you can’t use cognitive restructuring training on someone who is not cognitive. The same holds true to criminals. Cognitive therapy is ineffective on criminals for the same reason, because they are not yet cognitive.
The problem with using therapists to facilitate cognitive therapy programs is that most therapists are emotionally sick themselves with mainly living in the box of self-deception. That is they don’t know they are sick and therefore pass on their sickness (untruths) to their clients. Millions of people go to psychotherapists for years at great costs, yet never get b better and with many, getting worse. Yet skilled cognitive life skills counselors with a correct responsive proven curriculum can assist people to make permanent change in a matter of hours instead of days, months and years.
This is not to say that all therapists are bad. The best counselors/therapists have a positive way of being. People respond because of the goodness of their hearts, not to counseling techniques. Who would you like to work with, a stony cold dry creek bed or a flowing river that nourishes all that it comes in contact with?
Ponder the use of cognitive restructuring life skills versus clinical approach of cognitive therapy. Look for evidence based cognitive restructuring programs that can provide proof that their curriculum and approach works. Look for authors and organizations that have years of experience in holding and facilitating groups. No book learning can replace actual hands on experience.
About the Author: Larry Lloyd is Director of the American Community Corrections Institute. ACCI offers evidence-based cognitive restructuring life skills curriculum that has been proven to work in reducing recidivism. ACCI also sponsors a Cognitive Life Skills blog.