Traditional CBT/Cognitive Therapy (CT)  

Application areas: Mood and anxiety disorders, psychosis, substance disorders, eating and sleep disorders, impulse control disorders, adjustment disorders, relational disorders and personality disorders.

Developed by: Aaron Tim Beck in the 1960s. 

Collaborative, client-centered and done in a guided discovery way.

The therapeutic relationship is all-important, based on compassion and understanding.  

Cognitive Therapy, or ‘Traditional CBT‘, is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy; it is effective for many different disorders which each have their own conceptualizations and protocols applied flexibly to individual cases. Therapist competence and fidelity is ensured by the Cognitive Therapy Rating Scale (CTRS), a standard during Cognitive Therapy training.    

It is solution-focused and aims at being economical time-wise. Individuals are helped to solve their problems, but also learn how to manage future situations. Skills addressing distorted thinking and core beliefs, behavioural change and interpersonal effectivity are acquired. 

The cognitive approach

The cognitive model maintains that there is a reciprocal link between one’s thinking, feeling and actions within any given context or event.

The role of biology is accommodated, as well as early childhood experiences. Behavioural and emotional change, and solutions to problems, are brought about by facilitating more balanced thinking.

After assessment, therapy goals are set together.

Sessions have a specific format, which include getting in touch with feelings at the beginning of sessions. Recent events and the previous session is bridged, before working on main items. This usually leads to something to work on in between sessions, related to the session and broad therapy goals.

Cognitive or behavioural interventions are applied. These include techniques for challenging automatic thoughts, for changing cognitive distortions, mental imagery techniques, techniques for coping with recurrent thoughts, techniques for changing and controlling behaviour, behavioural techniques for mood, cognitive and behavioural change. First, second and third generation CBT interventions are integrated and embraced during this process. 

The individual’s past in terms of core beliefs is addressed at a later stage of therapy. Early emotional experiences leading to core beliefs (‘schemas’), assumptions and resulting coping styles are understood during case conceptualizations. This is an essential understanding, especially in the case of personality disorders.     

The contact person for Cognitive Therapy in South Africa is Shane Pienaar-Du Bruyn. or


 ‘Unfolding of our Past’ – Memory of Me series, Bigstock