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The Philosophy of CBT in BABCP’s newsletter CBT Today (May 2012)

Living it up for death

Patricia Murphy’s Special Feature in CBT Today (May 2012)

The following excerpt from CBT Today mentioned The Philosophy of CBT:

In The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Donald Robertson cogently explains why modern psychotherapists should remain interested in ancient philosophy, not least because it has a ‘broader scope than modern psychotherapy, it looks at the bigger picture and allows us the opportunity to place such therapy within the context of an overall “art of living”, or philosophy of life’. We are reminded that the origins of modern CBT can be traced back to the ancient practices of Socratic philosophy while, according to Epicurus,‘living well’ also requires the individual to ‘rehearse death’.The contemplation of one’s own mortality was viewed by the Stoics as a therapeutic exercise to be repeated daily. The imaginary embodiment of the ideal role model or sage was seen by ancient philosophers as necessary to provide a standard for the ‘art of living’.

Robertson suggests that, unlike Stoicism and most classical philosophies,‘CBT lacks any clear account of the ideal toward which it aims’. That said, he observes how many techniques and concepts found in classical literature, including mindfulness,modelling behaviour, cognitive restructuring and distancing/perspective changing techniques, are well rehearsed in CBT. Meanwhile, individual therapists may use poetry, prose, music, metaphor, imagery, archetypes and historical figures to demonstrate qualities or sentiments that also reflect the qualities of the sage, including wisdom, courage and compassion.

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Reviews

Jules Evans on Ancient Philosophy

Jules Evans on Ancient Philosophy

The Browser

Jules discusses The Philosophy of CBT as one of his five book choices:

…the founders of CBT were directly inspired by ancient Greek philosophy. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of that connection at all. Even a lot of cognitive therapists are unaware of it. That is partly because Aaron Beck was keen to present CBT as an evidence-based scientific therapy, so the philosophical roots of CBT were somewhat swept under the carpet. Donald’s was really the first book to properly explore the relationship between ancient philosophy and CBT.

Full Article on The Browser

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Reviews

New Review in The European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling

Review of The Philosophy of CBT

The European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13642537.2011.596726

Another positive review in a peer-reviewed academic journal.  This one by John W. Owen of the University of Manchester and Bolton Primary Care NHS Trust, a clinical psychologist and former IAPT supervisor,

In The philosophy of cognitive-behaviour therapy, Robertson proposes that the connections between Stoic philosophy and CBT deserve deeper consideration.  Within this book, the author offers a detailed comparative analysis of these two schools of thought, and compellingly argues that the origins of CBT are evident in the theory and practice of Stoic philosophy.

He adds,

The philosophy of cognitive-behavioural therapy particularly highlighted to me the extent to which REBT has its origins within Stoic philosophy. […] Being unfamiliar with the details of Stoic philosophy, I was surprised and intrigued to learn of the important practical aspects of this school of thought.  Stoicism does not appear to have been a solely introspective form of philosophy, instead, a range of practical techniques were advocated in the service of self improvement. […] Robertson details an impressive range of Stoic techniques that are analogous to those found in CBT, for example the practice of self-monitoring, the use of coping statements and the practice of journal keeping.

He concludes,

Overall, I found The Philosophy of CBT to be informative and thought provoking. It was both interesting and sobering to reflect upon the possibility that variants of some of the psychotherapeutic techniques that I use on a day-to-day basis in clinical practice may have also been employed to alleviate emotional disturbance in ancient Greece. I would particularly recommend this book for trainee cognitive-behaviour therapists. […] I wonder whether Robertson’s book could serve to foster a broader understanding of the assumptions, philosophical underpinnings and overarching goals of cognitive-behavioural approaches to the alleviation of
emotional disturbance.

See the full review in The European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling,

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13642537.2011.596726

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Philosophy of CBT Reviews

Review in The Journal of Value Inquiry

The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Review in The Journal of Value Inquiry

The Philosophy of CBT CoverA very detailed and favourable review of The Philosophy of CBT has been published in The Journal of Value Inquiry by Dr. William Ferraiolo, a lecturer in the philosophy department at Delta College in San Joaquin, California.  Dr. Ferraiolo writes,

It is high time that some member of the community of contemporary therapists, so many of whom deploy one or more of the many permutations of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help manage their patients’ psychological dysfunction, paid proper obeisance to the ancient architects upon whose work so much modern therapeutic theory and practice are built. […] Fortunately, Donald Robertson undertakes precisely this task of uncovering and acknowledging the Stoic taproot of popular modes of contemporary therapy and counsel in his recent and admirable book, The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy.

He adds,

This down payment on the practicing therapist’s debt of gratitude to the ancient Stoics is a very welcome addition to both the academic’s and the practitioner’s library.  It ought to be required reading for students of Hellenistic philosophy, psychotherapists, and anyone undertaking an exploration of the human condition, or efforts to deal with challenges endemic to it, or both.

He concludes, after an overview and discussion of the contents,

For anyone interested in Hellenistic philosophy, Stoicism in particular, or in contemporary talk therapy and its foundations, The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy is an invaluable resource.  Philosophers, psychologists, therapists, counselors, and all others who hope to cultivate equanimity through rational self-governance are certain to benefit from Donald Robertson’s exploration of Stoicism as a wellspring of indispensable therapeutic wisdom.  Reading Robertson’s book should, itself, be considered a form of “bibliotherapy” and an effort of which the ancient Stoic masters would, no doubt, approve.