A Conversation with Aaron T. Beck

Aaron T. Beck- Biography

Aaron Beck was born in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, the youngest child of four siblings. Beck’s daughter, Judith S. Beck, is also a researcher in the field of cognitive therapy and President of the Beck Institute. She is married with four children, Roy, Judy, Dan, and Alice. He has nine grandchildren.
Beck attended Brown University, graduating magna cum laude in 1942. At Brown he was elected a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, was an associate editor of The Brown Daily Herald, and received the Francis Wayland Scholarship, William Gaston Prize for Excellence in Oratory, and Philo Sherman Bennett Essay Award. Beck attended Yale Medical School, graduating with an M.D. in 1946.

Aaron T. Beck, M.D., is the President Emeritus of the non-profit Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, and University Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of the Psychopathology Research Unit (PRU), which is the parent organization of the Center for the Treatment and Prevention of Suicide.
Beck developed cognitive therapy in the early 1960s as a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania. He had previously studied and practiced psychoanalysis. A researcher and scientist at heart, Beck designed and carried out a number of experiments to test psychoanalytic concepts of depression. Fully expecting research would validate these fundamental precepts, he was surprised to find the opposite. This research led him to begin to look for other ways of conceptualizing depression. Working with depressed patients, he found that they experienced streams of negative thoughts that seemed to pop up spontaneously. He termed these cognitions “automatic thoughts,” and discovered that their content fell into three categories: negative ideas about themselves, the world and the future. Limited time spent reflecting on automatic thoughts would lead patients to treat them as valid. Beck began helping patients identify and evaluate these thoughts and found that by doing so, patients were able to think more realistically, which led them to feel better emotionally and behave more functionally[citation needed]. Beck (1997) discovered key ideas in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, he explains different disorders were associated with different types of distorted thinking. Distorted thinking has a negative effect on our behaviour no matter what type of disorder (Beck, 1997). Beck (1997) explains that successful interventions will educate a person to understand and become aware of their distorted thinking and how to challenge its effects. Beck (1997) discovered that frequent negative automatic thoughts reveal a persons core beliefs. He explains core beliefs are formed over lifelong experiences; we “feel” these beliefs to be true.
Since that time, Beck and his colleagues worldwide have researched the efficacy of this form of psychotherapy in treating a wide variety of disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, drug abuse, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and many medical conditions with psychological components. Some of his most recent work has focused on cognitive therapy for schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and for patients who are repeat suicide attempters. Beck has published over 540 articles and authored or co-authored twenty-two books.He has been named one of the “Americans in history who shaped the face of American Psychiatry” and one of the “five most influential psychotherapists of all time” by The American Psychologist (July 1989). Beck is the Honorary President of the non-profit Academy of Cognitive Therapy, an organization of over 500 cognitive therapists worldwide. As part of its mission, the Academy supports continuing education and research in cognitive therapy, provides a valuable resource in cognitive therapy for professionals and the public at large, and actively works towards the identification and certification of clinicians skilled in cognitive therapy. Among his many activities, Beck is currently involved in a number of research studies at Penn, and conducts biweekly Case Conferences at Beck Institute for area psychiatric residents, graduate students, and mental health professionals. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_T._Beck

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