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Book Review

Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond, 2nd ed

Kimberly P. Brown, PhD

Published: September 15, 2012

Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond, 2nd ed

by Judith S. Beck, PhD. The Guilford Press, New York, NY, 2011, 391 pages, $50.00 (paper).

The daughter of the father of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy delivers a comprehensive road map to the practice of CBT. In Dr Beck’s well laid-out text, each of the 21 chapters builds on material covered in the earlier chapters. The reader is guided though structured and clear sections in which the techniques and phases of cognitive behavior therapy are well defined.

The text is geared toward individuals without much exposure to CBT and those who need a refresher on the techniques. The reader is assumed to already possess basic helping skills (empathy, positive regard) that are essential components to any school of psychotherapy. The book is meant primarily for clients with depressive and anxiety disorders. While it does provide some pointers for dealing with treatment-resistant clients, it provides minimal information on patients with other diagnoses, including Axis II issues.

Dr Beck builds upon the first edition of Cognitive Behavior Therapy by including more information about the importance of the therapeutic alliance, Socratic questioning, the use of clients’ strength, and homework. In addition, a case conceptualization of "Sally" and a cognitive therapy rating scale are included in the appendices. "Sally" is referred to across the chapters to illustrate the techniques of CBT over the course of psychotherapy.

Dr Beck presents the foundations of CBT in identifying and altering clients’ underlying dysfunctional beliefs and developing more reality-based and functional beliefs to produce more enduring change. She frames the collaborative and educative nature of CBT (eg, setting the agenda together, discussing diagnosis, and eliciting client feedback) and emphasizes that it is meant to be time limited and goal directed. The book is highly structured and progressive, as is CBT itself; however, Dr Beck encourages flexibility in application of the principles to address the individuality of clients and their problems. She also encourages readers to apply the concepts to themselves to gain the most out of the text.

The reader is walked through the steps of each session of CBT, including the evaluation session, the first therapy session, and session 2 and beyond. The chapters are chock-full of dialogue from sample therapy sessions that bring to life the theoretical concepts covered. There are chapters devoted to key aspects of cognitive behavior therapy, including identifying, evaluating, and responding to automatic thoughts and identifying and modifying core beliefs. There are additional chapters on the use of homework, termination and relapse prevention, and ways to address problems in therapy. Overarching guiding principles as well as specific issues (eg, interrupting the patient) are covered. While the book is focused on CBT, Dr Beck briefly mentions and incorporates techniques from other schools, including Gestalt role playing and mindfulness. The book concludes with a brief but helpful chapter on development as a CBT psychotherapist.

The second edition of Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a must-read guide for graduate students and practicing therapists who are interested in learning the essentials of CBT. It will no doubt be recognized as a classic text in the field due not only to its excellent coverage of CBT, but also to the clear, concise, and illustrative manner in which the techniques are presented.

Kimberly P. Brown, PhD

Author affiliations: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Potential conflicts of interest: None reported.

Volume: 73

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