Goodbye to Aaron Beck, the father of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Aaron Beck dies at the age of 100. One of the most innovative psychotherapists who throughout his life had only one concern and goal: to alleviate human suffering.

His life and his work have changed the reality of many people, thanks to his remarkable contribution to the field of psychology. His work especially revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of depression, as well as other psychological disorders. One of his daughters announced his death on November 1 through a statement: “My father died peacefully in his home at the age of 100. The magnitude of his contribution to the discipline is incalculable. With his efforts in cognitive-behavioral therapy and his research, he has changed the field of mental health. “The truth is that few figures have contributed so notably to the advancement of this science as Dr. Beck. In fact, he leaves us an immense legacy. He was a prolific researcher and his more than 600 articles, his 25 books and his more than 70 years in business demonstrate this. We could say that he was one of the greatest experts in human suffering and a person who dedicated his entire existence to dealing with that reality.

The man who brought a new approach to mental health

When we ask anyone to tell us the name of a relevant figure in the field of psychology, in 90% of cases the name of Sigmund Freud appears. The popularity of the father of psychoanalysis remains unstoppable. However, if there is someone who revolutionized the field of mental health, it was Aaron Beck. Thus, if he is known for something, it is for developing cognitive-behavioral therapy in the 1960s. This clinical approach was precisely a challenge to the pillars of the Freudian psychoanalytic approach. Beck guided his patients to focus on the distortions of their everyday thinking, leaving aside the conflicts buried in childhood. In fact, he introduced an anti-Freudian maxim that popularized him throughout his life: there is more to the surface than we think… It was a challenge, a turning point when it came to addressing human suffering. It was time to stop paying attention to internal and subconscious conflicts to help the person take control of their thoughts.

Alleviating human suffering, a constant goal for Aaron Beck

Aaron Beck developed multiple assessment tools to make more accurate diagnoses. He created instruments to identify dysfunctional beliefs, scales to assess hopelessness, anxiety, suicidal ideation … He developed new treatments, protocols and mechanisms to intervene in multiple clinical conditions. His work in the United States quickly served as a guide in Europe, so in a short time, cognitive-behavioral therapy completely revolutionized mental health. In the United Kingdom, for example, cognitive therapy began to be applied for panic disorder, social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Right now, it is one of the most reliable techniques and one that offers the greatest therapeutic success. Likewise, and as a curiosity, it should be said that the therapy created by Aaron Beck, even though he is over 50 years old, continues to be applied in new settings. An example, in a study by the Department of Psychiatry at Bengbu Medical College and the University of New South Wales, they showed that cognitive-therapy has been useful in patients with anxiety and depression associated with COVID-19. Today’s psychological needs continue to benefit from Aaron Beck’s work. 

Farewell Aaron Beck, one of the most influential psychotherapists in history 

The magazine American Psychologist named Aaron Beck in 1982 as one of the ten most influential psychotherapists in history. However, he still had several decades to develop further contributions and shape an undeniable legacy. The same one now inherited by his daughter, Judith Beck, who worked closely with her father and was also a co-founder of the non-profit organization Beck Institute. As always happens in life, coincidences are the ones that guide our destinies. Beck was going to be a neurologist, but he had to complete his residency in the area of ​​psychiatry and it was there that he found the meaning of his existence. His tireless work and passion for understanding human suffering has changed the course of many people. His contributions and legacy will continue to evolve to bring well-being to those who need it most. 

You can find cognitive behavioural therapists in the ESHA Spain business directory

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