Aaron T. Beck, M.D.

A native of Providence, RI, Aaron T. Beck had an interest in the vagaries of human nature as far back as he can remember. After graduating magna cum laude from Brown University in 1942, he embarked on a career in medicine at Yale Medical School, graduating in 1946. He served a rotating internship, followed by a residency in pathology at the Rhode Island Hospital. His residency in neurology at the Cushing Veterans Administration Hospital in Framingham, MA, required rotation in psychiatry, where he became intrigued with some of the more recent developments in the field. He spent two years as a fellow at Austin Riggs Center in Stockbridge where he acquired substantial experience in conducting long-term psychotherapy. The Korean War shifted Beck’s area of work to the Valley Forge Army Hospital where he was Assistant Chief of Neuropsychiatry.

Dr. Beck joined the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pennsylvania in 1954 and is currently a University Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry. He is President Emeritus of the non-profit Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, and Director of the Aaron T. Beck Psychopathology Research Center, University of Pennsylvania.

He initially researched psychoanalytic theories of depression until he developed a new theoretical-clinical orientation, cognitive therapy. Since 1959 he has directed funded research investigations of the psychopathology of depression, suicide, anxiety disorders, panic disorders, alcoholism, drug abuse, personality disorders, and schizophrenia and of cognitive therapy of these disorders. His current work focuses on implementing Recovery-Oriented Cognitive Therapy (CT-R) into a variety of mental health settings.  He has published over 580 articles and authored or co-authored twenty-four books.

Dr. Beck has been a member or consultant for several review panels of the National Institute of Mental Health, served on the editorial boards of many journals, and lectured throughout the world. He was a visiting scientist at the Medical Research Council at Oxford and has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. He is the recipient of the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, the Heinz Award for “The Human Condition” and The Sarnat Award “in recognition of the international scope and significance of his contributions to psychiatry and mental health, particularly his  development of cognitive therapy.” The Lienhard Award from The Institute of Medicine “for developing the theory and practice of cognitive therapy that benefited nearly five million people in the United States and millions worldwide,” The Prince Mahidol Award in Medicine for outstanding research in the field of medicine for the benefit of mankind, and the first Kennedy Community Health Award “as the father of cognitive therapy and one of the most influential people in community mental health,” among many others. Beck has been awarded five honorary degrees, from Yale University, Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Assumption College, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has been listed as one of the “10 individuals who shaped the face of American Psychiatry” and the most influential psychotherapist among American psychologists.

Beck has been married for 61 years and has four children, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Honors (*Most significant honors)

1942               Brown University:   

                           Phi Beta Kappa

                           Francis Wayland Scholar

                           Gaston Award (for Oratory)

                           Bennet Essay Prize

1948               Rhode Island Medical Society Award for Research by an intern

1978               Philadelphia Society of Clinical Psychologists:  Distinguished Researcher Award

1979               American Psychiatric Association:  Foundation’s Fund Prize for Research in Psychiatry

1982               Brown University: Doctor of Medical Science (Honorary)

1983               American Psychopathological Association: Paul Hoch Award

1983               American Association of Suicidology: Louis Dublin Award for Suicide Research

1987               Royal College of Psychiatrists, Fellow

1989               American Psychological Association: Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology

1989                Brown University: William Rogers Award

1991               National Institute of Mental Health: M.E.R.I.T Award for Research Grant Risk Factors for Suicide in Psychiatric Outpatients

1991               American Suicide Foundation, Research Award for Lifetime Work on Hopelessness and Suicide

1992               Harvard University:  The Karen Stone Lectureship

*1992              New York Academy of Medicine:  Honoree, Thomas William Salmon Award

1992               Albert Einstein College of Medicine: The Einstein Award in Psychiatry

1993               American Psychological Society: James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award in Applied Psychology

1995               Assumption College: Doctor of Humane Letters (Honorary)

1996               American Association of Assessment Psychology: Research Award

1996               California Psychological Association: Lifetime Achievement Award

1996               Society for Psychotherapy Research: Distinguished Scientist Award

1996               Belmont Behavioral Health System: Outstanding Researcher Award

1997               The Nicholas & Dorothy Cummings Foundation: Cummings PSYCHE Award for Lifetime Achievement

*1997              National Academy of Medicine:  National Academy of Sciences: Senior Member

1998               Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy: Lifetime Achievement Award

1999               McLean Hospital: Stanton Award

1999               Society for Research in Psychopathology: The Joseph Zubin Award

1999               Brown University: Distinguished Scientific Award for the Study and Treatment of Mental Disorders

2000               American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Greater Philadelphia Chapter: Research Award

*2001               Heinz Award for the Human Condition

2001               Philadelphia Psychiatric Society: Lifetime Achievement Award

*2001              Columbia University; New York State Psychiatric Institute: Brickell Award

2002               Yale University:  Cherlin Lectureship

2002               Treatment and Research Advancements, National Association for Personality Disorders: First TARA Award

*2003              National Academy of Medicine: Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Award in Mental Health

2004               University of Louisville: Grawemeyer Award in Psychology

2006               International Academy for Suicide Research: Morselli Medal for Lifetime of Research in the Field of Suicide

2006               American Psychiatric Association: Adolf Meyer Award for Outstanding Contributions to Psychiatry

2006               Pennsylvania Hospital, University of Pennsylvania Health System: Strecker Award

2006               American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Lifetime Achievement Award

*2006              The Lasker Foundation:  Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award

*2006              National Academy of Medicine:  Gustav O. Lienhard Award for the advancement of health services

2007               American College of Physicians: William C. Menninger Memorial Award

2007               American Psychological Association (Division 13); Lifetime Achievement

2007               Award American Counseling Association: Presidential Award

2007               American Academy of Arts & Sciences: Fellow

2007               University of Pennsylvania: Doctor of Science (Honorary)

2007                University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine: William Osler Patient Oriented Research Award

2007               New York Academy of Medicine: Salmon Medal

2008               American Psychiatric Association: Distinguished Service Award

2008               Philadelphia Behavior Therapists Association: Lifetime Achievement Award

2008               University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine:  Psychiatry Chief Residents’ Award

2008               Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine: Doctor of Laws (Honorary)

2008               American Psychological Association, Division of Media Psychology: Presidential Award

2009               Castilla del Pino Foundation: Eighth Castilla del Pino Award (Spain)

2009               Pasarow Foundation Award for Research in Neuropsychiatry

2009               National Nursing Centers Consortium: Lifetime Achievement Award

2009               Forum Lundense:  Award for outstanding contributions (Sweden)

2009               Anna-Monika Foundation: Anna-Monika Prize (German)

2009               American Philosophical Society:  Rhoads Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Medicine

2010               Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania: Bell of Hope Award.

2010               American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians: Sigmund Freud Award

2011               National Alliance on Mental Illness: Scholarship and Research Award

2011               Under the Royal Patronage of Thailand: Prince Mahidol Award in Medical Science

2011               Columbia University: Edward J. Sachar Award

2012               Yale Distinguished Alumnus Award

2012               Babes-Bolyai University in Romania: Doctor of Medical Science (Honorary) (Romania)

2012               Yale University: Doctor of Medical Science (Honorary)

*2013               Kennedy Community Health Award from the Kennedy Forum

2014               NAMI: Impact Award

2014               Mind Your Mind Foundation: Changing Minds Award

2014               Doctor of Medical Science: La Trobe University in Australia (Honorary)

*2017               National Alliance on Mental Illness: Lifetime Achievement Award (June 2017)

2018               Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy:  Award for Most Valuable Psychotherapist


A. Twenty-six books:

Depression: Clinical, Experimental, and Theoretical Aspect (1967)[Republished: Depression: Causes and Treatment (1970)]

Diagnosis and Management of Depression (1967)

Prediction of Suicide (1974)

Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders (1976)

Cognitive Therapy of Depression (1979)

Anxiety Disorders and Phobias (1985)

Love Is Never Enough (1988)

Cognitive Therapy in Clinical Practice (1989)

Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders (1990)

Cognitive Therapy of Substance Abuse (1993)

Cognitive Therapy with Inpatients:  Developing a Cognitive Milieu (1993)

The Integrative Power of Cognitive Therapy (1997)

Scientific Foundations of Cognitive Theory and Therapy of Depression (1999)

Prisoners of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence (2002)

Bipolar Disorder: A Cognitive Therapy Approach (2002)

Cognitive Therapy with Chronic Pain Patients (2003)

Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders – 2nd Edition (2004)

Anxiety Disorders and Phobias – 2nd Edition (2005)

Cognitive Therapy with Suicidal Patients: Scientific and Clinical Applications (2009)

Schizophrenia: Cognitive Theory, Research and Therapy (2009)

Depression:  Causes and Treatment – 2nd Edition (2009)

Cognitive Therapy of Anxiety Disorders: Science and Practice (2009)

Cognitive Therapy with High School Students: Techniques and Materials to Practice CT in the School Setting (2011)

Group Cognitive Therapy for Addictions (2012)

The Anxiety & Worry Workbook (2011)

Recovery-oriented Cognitive Therapy for Schizophrenia (in press)

B. Over 639 published articles in professional and scientific journals


a)     Principal Investigator, National Institute of Mental Health Grant #MM3358, Systematic Investigation of Depression (1959-1964)

b)     Principal Investigator, Depression Research Project, University of Pennsylvania (1965-1969)

c)     Principal Investigator, National Institute of Mental Health Grant #MH16616, Psychopathology of Depression and Suicide (1969-1971)

d)     Principal Investigator, National Institute of Mental Health Grant #MH19989, Classification and Assessment of Suicidal Behavior (1971-1976)

e)     Principal Investigator, National Institute for Drug Abuse Grant #DA01319-01, Prediction and Psychotherapy in a Methadone Program (1975-1977)

f)      Principal Investigator, National Institute of Mental Health Grant #MH30847, Assessment and Therapy of Depressed Suicidal Patients (1977-1982)

g)     Principal Investigator, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Grant #AM03016-01, Prognosis and Treatment of Depressed Alcoholics (1978-1981)

h)     Co-Investigator, National Institute for Drug Abuse Contract #271-77-3430, Psychotherapy of Addiction (1977-1980)

i)      Principal Investigator, National Institute of Mental Health Grant #16689-01A1, Training Models in Cognitive Therapy (1982-1985)

j)      Principal Investigator, National Institute of Mental Health Grant #MH-38843, Psychopathology of Depression and Anxiety (1983-1990)

k)     Principal Investigator, National Institute of Mental Health Grant #MH-43804, Focused Cognitive Therapy of Panic Disorder (1988-1991)

l)      Principal Investigator, Center for Disease Control Grant #R49/CCR 304568-01, Risk Factors for Suicide in Psychiatric Outpatients (1990-1991)

m)   Principal Investigator, American Suicide Foundation, Suicide Ideation, Suicide Attempts and Eventual Suicide in Panic Disorders (1991-1992)