CTR and the Enlightenment

I believe that the three principles of the enlightenment form the foundation of cognitive therapy:


I. Humanism

  1. Definition: Humanism is a philosophical doctrine that emphasizes human value such as agency (independent action) and critical thinking as opposed to superstition and dogma.
  2. The humanistic application to cognitive therapy and particularly recovery-oriented cognitive therapy is emphasizing the importance of self-fulfilling motivation, independent action, and unique values, needs and aspirations. In the severally mentally ill, it emphasizes complex entities such as adaptation, flourishing vs. languishing, empowerment, belonging, etc.
  3. The values of mentally ill individuals’ often center on authenticity, compassion, and equality among others.
  4. We try to draw out the individual’s latent aspirations and foster self-determination, self-fulfillment, etc. We also adhere to the credo of empathy, collaboration, bonding, intimacy, and interpersonal relations and taking charge of one’s life.
  5. Specific events, aspirations, and activities have special meanings for each individual. What is meaningful for one individual may be meaningless or having negative connotations for another person. Thus, the meanings have to be teased out.
  6. The individuals by enlarge have “sweet spots” which need to be discovered and utilized. These special interests are often quite a commonplace but have special meanings for each individual. Among these are special interests such as singing, playing instruments, doing art, cooking, engaging in makeup, fishing, kayaking, and video games.
  7. Group activities often fulfill multiple needs, the totality of which is greater than the sum of the individual activities.
  8. The meanings associated with these activities are unique to each individual who may need to be guided towards determining the meaning as well as the activity, such as being somebody, being effective, having fun and enjoyment, and being accepted.

II. Reason

  1. We attempt to apply reason to ourselves and to other people. Individuals are endowed both with prosocial and antisocial tendencies. These are largely the product of our evolutionary heritage and are diminished through our upbringing. The negative evolutionarily derived features may have helped survival in the wild, but interfere with our interpersonal relationships as well as with our own aspirations. These problems stem from innate cognitive biases which warp our interpretation of other people’s behavior and their motives. We also tend to have biases towards ourselves which interfere with reaching our aspirations.
  2. These biases lead to a variety of cognitive distortions such as arbitrary inference, overgeneralization, and catastrophizing. Reason is used to identify these cognitive distortions and then examine their substance with the use of reflection, looking for the evidence, questioning the logic, etc.
  3. Through therapy, it is possible to consistently confront our cognitive distortions, modify them, and end up with more realistic appeals. This process is aided by techniques such as cognitive restructuring, re-formulation, critical thinking, etc.

III. Science/ Scientific Method and Experimentation

  1. The acquisition of new knowledge and the evaluation of beliefs both long-standing and of recent duration need to be examined and clarified.
  2. The scientific method is employed to test hypotheses (beliefs) by providing opportunities to negate negative beliefs as well as to activate positive beliefs. Thus, beliefs are set up as testable hypotheses or behavioral experiments to be evaluated. In addition, the entire theory in therapy is suggested in scientific experimentation.
  3. For example, It is important to use guided discovery to drive home a lesson learned from each behavioral experiment. An individual may say, “I don’t want to participate in a talent show because I won’t have a good time.” Following an enjoyable experience, the individual is guided to a conclusion: “My prediction was wrong. Perhaps in the future, I can disregard negative predictions and move into new situations.”

ATB-