History of CBT

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) was developed after behavior therapy.  Behavior therapy had come out of scientific labs and presented evidence that applying learning principles to human behavior problems could be helpful.  CBT is typically credited to clinicians, like Albert Ellis, who was dissatisfied with the results of the psychodynamic therapy he was practicing.

REBT as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

He then applied many teachings derived from philosophy to his clinical practice.  While preserving many ideas from behavior therapy, his model suggested that changing beliefs was the most important mechanism of change a therapist could emphasize.  Psychotherapy patients would whether depressed, anxious, or angry would learn to identify their irrational beliefs and then replace them with rational beliefs.  He proposed this would lead to negative (but less intense) emotional states, which would allow people to more easily select healthy behaviors.

For example, an angry psychotherapy patient may strongly believe that everyone on the street should be courteous to others and if anyone is not, then the person must be a horrible person.  Likewise the patient with the anger problem may also believe he cannot tolerate such behavior or accept such a person.  Through work with the CBT therapist (or in Albert Ellis specific case, Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy, REBT) he could replace those beliefs with more rational ones.  A set of alternative rational beliefs in this case may be something like, I wish people would always be courteous on the street, but I recognize that may not always be the case, and I can tolerate those rude behaviors when I see them, even if I really dislike them.  Likewise, I may not care for the person exhibiting the behavior, but I can tolerate such a person, even though I may choose to assertively express my disapproval.

Cognitive Therapy is a form of CBT

After Albert Ellis developed REBT (which some consider to be the first form of CBT), Tim Beck created Cognitive Therapy.  Again this form of CBT emphasizes the role that beliefs have on emotional states, which then impact behavior.  Cognitive Therapy has been shown in many studies to effectively treat depression and many anxiety disorders.