Aaron T. Beck

University of Pennsylvania, Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States

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Publications (201)758.66 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Despite the central role of training and consultation in the implementation of evidence-based psychological interventions (EBPIs), comprehensive reviews of research on training have highlighted serious gaps in knowledge regarding best practices. Consultation after initial didactic training appears to be of critical importance, but there has been very little research to determine optimal consultation format or interventions. This observational study compared two consultation formats that included review of session audio and feedback in the context of a program to train clinicians (n = 85) in community mental health clinics to deliver cognitive therapy (CT). A "gold standard" condition in which clinicians received individual feedback after expert consultants reviewed full sessions was compared to a group consultation format in which short segments of session audio were reviewed by a group of clinicians and an expert consultant. After adjusting for potential baseline differences between individuals in the two consultation conditions, few differences were found in terms of successful completion of the consultation phase or in terms of competence in CT at the end of consultation or after a 2 year follow-up. However, analyses did not support hypotheses regarding non-inferiority of the group consultation condition. While both groups largely maintained competence, clinicians in the group consultation condition demonstrated increases in competence over the follow-up period, while a sub-group of those in the individual condition experienced decreases. These findings, if replicated, have important implications for EBP implementation programs, as they suggest that observation and feedback is feasible in community mental health setting, and that employing this method in a group format is an effective and efficient consultation strategy that may enhance the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based psychotherapies.
    Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research 11/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10488-015-0700-7 · 3.44 Impact Factor
  • Sally E Riggs · Shannon Wiltsey-Stirman · Aaron T Beck ·

    09/2015; 35(2):34-39.
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    ABSTRACT: Attentional fixation is a cognitive process characterized by a narrowing of attention on and preoccupation with suicide as the only solution to one’s problems. The present study sought to investigate the experience of attentional fixation on suicide by establishing the psychometric properties of the Attentional Fixation on Suicide Experiences Questionnaire (AFSEQ) in a sample of 64 patients who recently attempted suicide. The AFSEQ evidenced strong psychometric properties, including good internal consistency and construct validity through moderate correlations with measures of suicidal ideation, depressive symptoms, and suicide-relevant cognitive distortions. In addition, an exploratory factor analysis of the AFSEQ identified two factors: Cognitive Dysfunction and Cognitive Stuckness. Results suggest the AFSEQ is a reliable method for assessing the experience of attentional fixation in relation to suicide. We propose future research to further examine attentional fixation as a proximal risk factor for suicidal behavior.
    Cognitive Therapy and Research 08/2015; 39(4). DOI:10.1007/s10608-015-9683-7 · 1.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine influences on the sustainability of a program to implement an evidence-based psychotherapy in a mental health system. Interviews with program administrators, training consultants, agency administrators, and supervisors (N=24), along with summaries of program evaluation data and program documentation, were analyzed with a directed content-analytic approach. Findings suggested a number of interconnected and interacting influences on sustainability, including alignment with emerging sociopolitical influences and system and organizational priorities; program-level adaptation and evolution; intervention flexibility; strong communication, collaboration, planning, and support; and perceived benefit. These individual factors appeared to mutually influence one another and contribute to the degree of program sustainability achieved at the system level. Although most influences were positive, financial planning and support emerged as potentially both facilitator and barrier, and evaluation of benefits at the patient level remained a challenge. Several factors appeared to contribute to the sustainability of a psychosocial intervention in a large urban mental health system and warrant further investigation. Understanding interconnections between multiple individual facilitators and barriers appears critical to advancing understanding of sustainability in dynamic systems and adds to emerging recommendations for other implementation efforts. In particular, implications of the findings include the importance of implementation strategies, such as long-term planning, coalition building, clarifying roles and expectations, planned adaptation, evaluation, diversification of financing strategies, and incentivizing implementation.
    Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) 03/2015; 66(7):appips201400147. DOI:10.1176/appi.ps.201400147 · 2.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Policy-makers, payers, and consumers often make decisions based on therapists' reported theoretical orientations, but little is known about whether these labels represent actual or potential skills. Prior to CBT training, therapists (n = 321) reported theoretical orientations. Experts rated CBT competency using the Cognitive Therapy Rating Scale Therapy at pre-, mid-, and post-training. CBT- and non-CBT identified therapists showed equivalent, non-competent baseline CBT skills. CBT-identified therapists showed greater CBT skills at mid-training, but by end of training, groups evidenced equivalent achieved competency. Baseline CBT orientations were neither valid, nor useful markers of later competency. Policy, clinical and research implications are discussed.
    Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research 12/2014; DOI:10.1007/s10488-014-0618-5 · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although theorists have posited that suicidal individuals are more likely than non-suicidal individuals to experience cognitive distortions, little empirical work has examined whether those who recently attempted suicide are more likely to engage in cognitive distortions than those who have not recently attempted suicide. In the present study, 111 participants who attempted suicide in the 30 days prior to participation and 57 psychiatric control participants completed measures of cognitive distortions, depression, and hopelessness. Findings support the hypothesis that individuals who recently attempted suicide are more likely than psychiatric controls to experience cognitive distortions, even when controlling for depression and hopelessness. Fortune telling was the only cognitive distortion uniquely associated with suicide attempt status. However, fortune telling was no longer significantly associated with suicide attempt status when controlling for hopelessness. Findings underscore the importance of directly targeting cognitive distortions when treating individuals at risk for suicide.
    Cognitive Therapy and Research 08/2014; 38(4):369-374. DOI:10.1007/s10608-014-9613-0 · 1.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the risk factors for suicide, 6,891 psychiatric outpatients were evaluated in a prospective study. Subsequent deaths for the sample were identified through the National Death Index. Forty-nine (l %) suicides were determined from death certificates obtained from state vital statistics offices. Specific psychological variables that could be modified by clinical intervention were measured using standardized scales. Univariate survival analyses revealed that the severity of depression, hopelessness, and suicide ideation were significant risk factors for eventual suicide. A multivariate survival analysis indicated that several modifiable variables were significant and unique risk factors for suicide, including suicide ideation, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and unemployment status. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death and was responsible for approximately 31,500 deaths in 1997 in the United States according to the most recent mortality statistics available from the National Center for Health Statistics (Hoyert, Kochanek, & Mur-phy, 1999). Given the relative infrequency of suicide, however, the identification of risk factors for suicide has been problematic (Murphy, 1984). Although previous studies have attempted to investigate suicide by studying a more frequent behavior, nonfatal suicide attempts, conclusions regarding the actual risk for suicide are tenuous (Maris, Berman, Maltsberger, & Yufit, 1992). Large samples, a prospective study design, and long-term follow-up are important components that are required for validating potential risk factors. A/though the estimated suicide rate in the general population is 0.01% (Hoyert et al., 1999), the rate among the psychiatric population is approximately 1% (Babigian & Odoroff, 1969; Pokorny, 1964). Several prospective studies have been conducted to identify risk factors in psychiatric populations (for a review, see Mogcicki, 1999). These studies have identified a variety of noso- Gallop for their advice on the epidemiological methods and anal-yses. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Gregory K.
  • Aaron T. Beck · David J. A. Dozois ·

    Psychiatry, 04/2014: pages 366-382; , ISBN: 9780199638963
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    Aaron T Beck · Emily A.P. Haigh ·
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    ABSTRACT: For over 50 years, Beck's cognitive model has provided an evidence-based way to conceptualize and treat psychological disorders. The generic cognitive model represents a set of common principles that can be applied across the spectrum of psychological disorders. The updated theoretical model provides a framework for addressing significant questions regarding the phenomenology of disorders not explained in previous iterations of the original model. New additions to the theory include continuity of adaptive and maladaptive function, dual information processing, energizing of schemas, and attentional focus. The model includes a theory of modes, an organization of schemas relevant to expectancies, self-evaluations, rules, and memories. A description of the new theoretical model is followed by a presentation of the corresponding applied model, which provides a template for conceptualizing a specific disorder and formulating a case. The focus on beliefs differentiates disorders and provides a target for treatment. A variety of interventions are described. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology Volume 10 is March 20, 2014. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
    Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 01/2014; 10(1). DOI:10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032813-153734 · 12.67 Impact Factor
  • Nadine A Chang · Paul M Grant · Lauren Luther · Aaron T Beck ·
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the feasibility of implementing a recovery-oriented cognitive therapy (CT-R) milieu training program in an urban acute psychiatric inpatient unit. Over a 1-month period, 29 staff members learned short-term CT-R strategies and techniques in an 8-h workshop. Trainees' perceptions of CT-R, beliefs about the therapeutic milieu, and attitudes about working with individuals with psychosis were evaluated both before the workshop and 6 months after the workshop had been completed. Incidents of seclusion and restraint on the unit were also tallied prior to and after the training. Results indicate that staff perceptions of CT-R and their beliefs about the therapeutic environment significantly improved, whereas staff attitudes towards individuals with psychosis remained the same. Incidents of seclusion and restraint also decreased after the training. These findings provide evidence that CT-R training is feasible and can improve the therapeutic milieu of an acute psychiatric inpatient unit.
    Community Mental Health Journal 12/2013; 50(4). DOI:10.1007/s10597-013-9675-6 · 1.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: This study identified modifications to an evidence-based psychosocial treatment (cognitive therapy) within a community mental health system after clinicians had received intensive training and consultation. Methods: A coding system, consisting of four types of contextual modifications, 12 types of content-related modifications, seven levels at which modifications can occur, and a code for changes to training or evaluation processes, was applied to data from interviews with 27 clinicians who treat adult consumers within a mental health system. Results: Nine of 12 content modifications were endorsed, and four (tailoring, integration into other therapeutic approaches, loosening structure, and drift) accounted for 65% of all modifications identified. Contextual modifications were rarely endorsed by clinicians in this sample. Modifications typically occurred at the client or clinician level. Conclusions: Clinicians in community mental health settings made several modifications to an evidence-based practice (EBP), often in an effort to improve the fit of the intervention to the client's needs or to the clinician's therapeutic style. These findings have implications for implementation and sustainability of EBPs in community settings, client-level outcomes, and training and consultation.
    Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) 10/2013; 64(10):1056-1059. DOI:10.1176/appi.ps.201200456 · 2.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Individuals with severe and persistent schizophrenia can present challenges (e.g., difficulties sustaining motivation and conducting information processing tasks) to the implementation of recovery-oriented care. We present a successful application of recovery-oriented cognitive therapy (CT-R), a fusion of the spirit and principles of the recovery movement with the evidence base and know-how of cognitive therapy, that helped an individual with schizophrenia move along her recovery path by overcoming specific obstacles, including a 20-year cycle of hospitalizations (five per year), daily phone calls to local authorities, threatening and berating "voices," the belief that she would be killed at any moment, and social isolation. Building on strengths, treatment included collaboratively identifying meaningful personal goals that were broken down into successfully accomplishable tasks (e.g., making coffee) that disconfirmed negative beliefs and replaced the phone calling. At the end of treatment and at a 6-month follow-up, the phone calls had ceased, psychosocial functioning and neurocognitive performance had increased, and avolition and positive symptoms had decreased. She was not hospitalized once in 24 months. Results suggest that individuals with schizophrenia have untapped potential for recovery that can be mobilized through individualized, goal-focused psychosocial interventions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    Psychological Services 09/2013; 11(2). DOI:10.1037/a0033912 · 1.08 Impact Factor
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    Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) 09/2013; 64(9):929-30. DOI:10.1176/appi.ps.640903 · 2.41 Impact Factor
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    Stefan G Hofmann · Gordon J G Asmundson · Aaron T Beck ·
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive therapy (CT) refers to a family of interventions and a general scientific approach to psychological disorders. This family has evolved from a specific treatment model into a scientific approach that incorporates a wide variety of disorder-specific interventions and treatment techniques. The goal of this article is to describe the scientific approach of CT, review the efficacy and validity of the CT model, and exemplify important differences and commonalities of the CT approaches based on two specific disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder and health anxiety.
    Behavior therapy 06/2013; 44(2):199-212. DOI:10.1016/j.beth.2009.01.007 · 3.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To compare the outcomes of cognitive therapy for depression under controlled and clinically representative conditions, while holding several therapist and clinical assessment factors constant. Treatment outcomes for a sample of 23 adults with a primary diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder who received cognitive therapy in an outpatient clinic were compared with outcomes of 18 clients who were treated in the cognitive therapy condition of a large, multi-site randomized clinical trial of treatments for depression. All participants had been treated by one of two therapists who served as clinicians in both settings. Individuals in the two samples were diagnostically and demographically similar (approximately 50% Female, 83% White). A variety of client characteristics, assessed prior to treatment, as well as the outcomes of treatment, were examined. Significantly superior treatment outcomes were observed in the individuals treated in the research study, relative to clients in the outpatient clinic, and the difference was not accounted for by intake characteristics. Individuals treated by the therapists in the RCT experienced almost three times as much improvement in depressive symptoms as clients seen in the outpatient setting. If replicated, the findings suggest that differences exist between treatment outcomes in research and outpatient settings and that these differences may not simply be due to therapist experience and training, or differences in patient populations. Future research should further examine the impact of fidelity monitoring, treatment expectation and motivation, and the duration and timing of treatment protocols on clinical outcomes.
    Cognitive Therapy and Research 06/2013; 37(3):605-612. DOI:10.1007/s10608-012-9499-7 · 1.70 Impact Factor
  • Paul M Grant · Aaron T Beck ·

    JAMA Psychiatry 05/2013; 70(5):543-4. DOI:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.285 · 12.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) is a widely used instrument that provides information about the presence and severity of depressive symptoms. Although the BDI-II is a psychometrically sound instrument, relatively little is known about norm scores. This study aimed to develop reliable norms for the BDI-II in a Dutch community sample. Gender, age, and education were hypothesized to predict BDI-II scores. A total of 7,500 respondents from a community sample in The Netherlands completed the BDI-II. It was investigated by means of multiple regression analysis whether distinct norms for genders, education levels, and age group are appropriate. BDI-II scores depended on gender and education level, but not on age. BDI-II norms were computed based on the final regression model. These BDI-II norms can be used for diagnostic purposes, clinical decision making, or the evaluation of treatment effects.
    Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 03/2013; 35(1):93-98. DOI:10.1007/s10862-012-9309-2 · 1.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: The Cognitive Biases Questionnaire for psychosis (CBQp) was developed to capture 5 cognitive distortions (jumping to conclusions, intentionalising, catastrophising, emotional reasoning, and dichotomous thinking), which are considered important for the pathogenesis of psychosis. Vignettes were adapted from the Cognitive Style Test (CST),(1) relating to "Anomalous Perceptions" and "Threatening Events" themes. Method: Scale structure, reliability, and validity were investigated in a psychosis group, and CBQp scores were compared with those of depressed and healthy control samples. Results: The CBQp showed good internal consistency and test-retest reliability. The 5 biases were not independent, with a 2-related factor scale providing the best fit. This structure suggests that the CBQp assesses a general thinking bias rather than distinct cognitive errors, while Anomalous Perception and Threatening Events theme scores can be used separately. Total CBQp scores showed good convergent validity with the CST, but individual biases were not related to existing tasks purporting to assess similar reasoning biases. Psychotic and depressed populations scored higher than healthy controls, and symptomatic psychosis patients scored higher than their nonsymptomatic counterparts, with modest relationships between CBQp scores and symptom severity once emotional disorders were partialled out. Anomalous Perception theme and Intentionalising bias scores showed some specificity to psychosis. Conclusions: Overall, the CBQp has good psychometric properties, although it is likely that it measures a different construct to existing tasks, tentatively suggested to represent a bias of interpretation rather than reasoning, judgment or decision-making processes. It is a potentially useful tool in both research and clinical arenas.
    Schizophrenia Bulletin 02/2013; 40(2). DOI:10.1093/schbul/sbs199 · 8.45 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) has been used more than any other self-report questionnaire in research on depression in cardiovascular disease. However, no studies have examined whether BDI scores may be influenced by somatic symptoms common after myocardial infarction (MI) that may overlap with symptoms of depression. The objective of this study was to examine whether BDI scores of post-MI patients may be influenced by somatic symptoms that commonly occur after MI, but may not be related to depression. Method: Post-MI patients and psychiatric outpatients were matched on BDI cognitive-affective symptom scores, sex, and age, and their BDI somatic symptom scores were compared using independent samples t tests. Results: Somatic symptoms accounted for 57% of BDI total scores for 296 post-MI patients (mean total BDI = 8.8), compared with 50% for 296 matched psychiatric outpatients (mean total BDI = 7.6). Overall, BDI somatic scores of post-MI patients were 1.3 points higher than for psychiatric outpatients (95% CI 0.68 to 1.82; P < 0.001), equivalent to 14% of total scores of post-MI patients. Conclusions: The relative influence of somatic symptoms on BDI total scores was higher for post-MI patients than for psychiatric outpatients matched on cognitive-affective scores, sex, and age. This finding stands in contrast to that from a previous study that used similar methods and sample comparisons and found that post-MI and psychiatric outpatients did not differ in their endorsement of somatic symptoms on the BDI-II. The BDI-II may be preferable to the BDI in post-MI patients.
    Canadian journal of psychiatry. Revue canadienne de psychiatrie 12/2012; 57(12):752-8. · 2.55 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

18k Citations
758.66 Total Impact Points


  • 1978-2015
    • University of Pennsylvania
      • • Department of Psychiatry
      • • Department of Medicine
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2003-2013
    • William Penn University
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2012
    • McGill University
      • Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology (ECP)
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • 2011
    • University of Texas at Austin
      Austin, Texas, United States
  • 2006
    • Duke University Medical Center
      Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • 2005
    • James Madison University
      • Department of Psychology
      Harrisonburg, VA, United States
  • 1997-2005
    • University of New Brunswick
      • Department of Psychology
      Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
  • 1987-2005
    • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
      • • Department of Psychiatry
      • • Department of Medicine
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2004
    • Drexel University
      • Department of Psychology
      Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 2002
    • University of Toronto
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 1994
    • The University of Scranton
      • Department of Psychology
      Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 1991
    • American University Washington D.C.
      • Department of Psychology
      Washington, D. C., DC, United States
  • 1975
    • The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 1974
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States