Keynote: “A Personal History of Aaron T. Beck and Cognitive Therapy”
Aaron T. Beck, M.D., the father of Cognitive Therapy (which is a particular form of cognitive behavior therapy), is also my father. In this keynote address, I will trace his development from neurology resident to psychiatrist, from psychoanalyst to researcher, from developer of psychopathology scales to developer of a revolutionary new system of psychotherapy. I will trace how his work, rejected by traditional psychotherapists, gradually gained acceptance over the years as the body of research demonstrating its efficacy undeniably grew and expanded.
I will also describe how the theory, research, and practice of cognitive therapy has increased exponentially in the past few years. First developed as a treatment for depression, cognitive therapy has been adapted for the range of psychiatric disorders by his colleagues throughout the world. It has been studied and is practiced by individuals from all mental health disciplines in individual, couples, family, and group formats, in community mental health centers, private practices, psychiatric hospitals, partial programs, university counseling centers, pain clinics, rehab programs, primary care settings, schools, prisons—the list could go on and on.
Finally, I will make note of Dr. Beck’s most recent professional passion: developing and studying a recovery oriented cognitive therapy for individuals with schizophrenia. He has not only been one of the giants in the field of mental health—but he is also an amazing teacher, mentor, and father.