Dr. Aaron Beck developed the foundation for CBT in the 1960s. At the time, he worked as a psychiatrist providing psychoanalysis for individuals struggling with severe depression. In his research, Beck discovered that standard psychoanalytic techniques weren’t yielding the same results he hoped for in treating depression.2
Instead, he began observing how most of his depressed patients experienced ongoing series of automatic negative thoughts. These thoughts fell into three distinct categories: negative thoughts about themselves, the world around them, and the future.
Beck started helping his patients recognize, label, and assess these automatic thoughts. Through this process, he found they could think about the situation more realistically. Subsequently, they began feeling better and functioned more appropriately.
Today, there are thousands of studies backing the efficacy of CBT. Practitioners across the world use it in treating clients of all ages and demographics. CBT was the first mode of therapy tested with rigorous criteria (randomized trials, control groups, etc.). Therefore, it was the first treatment model primarily identified as evidence-based.