Criticism on CBT (An Update)

CBT is a therapeutic intervention that is used in order to deal with clients that suffer from mental disorders and drug addiction developed by A.

Beck and A. Ellis. CBT is based on the concept of changing individual thoughts by focusing on the present situation.

CBT is known as a strange and unique intervention as compared to hypnosis and other therapies that are implemented while treating clients with mental problems.

Although, expert therapists prefer to know about all the interventions related to a disorder and apply it to the patients by considering his symptoms.

CBT can be administered in individual and group sessions.

Both individual and group session have different benefits on clients such as people who are shy in nature, feel confident when being alone with the therapist so that they can share their information in a confidential environment seems to prefer the individual session more while, on the other hand, those people when seeing that there are a number of people in this world who have a similar problem as they have they feel bit relax and comfortable with the belief that they are not alone in this world also they enjoy to work as a group so that they can compare their progress with others.

In this article we will discuss criticism on CBT. 

CBT has great efficacy and benefits for people because it works by focusing on the three basic aspects while dealing with a client that is described below.

Firstly: CBT helps people by increasing their self-empowerment by teaching individuals how to take responsibility for self-empowerment such as by teaching them that they have to take the responsibility of their disturbing thoughts because these thoughts, in turn, create the feeling of distress.

CBT claims that thoughts are responsible for the emotions and feelings we experience.

Secondly: CBT gives more importance to self-efficacy.

It believes that mental disturbance is not only caused by faulty thoughts of an individual that associate with their emotions rather than it also claims that their internal feeling plays an integral role in what kind of person they are and want they want from their life.

CBT also gives importance to the fact that humans have a right to think whatever they want to think and the reason they want to feel.

Thirdly: the most important aspect of CBT is that it focuses on the phenomena of her and now which means it focuses on the present conditions because whatever they think brings the feeling or emotions in them it may be positive and negative depending on the thinking pattern. 

This therapy has a great impact on the clients because it directly deals with the thought of mentally disturbing thought patterns. 

Criticism on CBT

Cognitive behavior therapy is a common term that is used to give an indication of the methods of adjusting various human experiences and happenings.

At the same time we see the criticism on CBT that is provided by experts or some people who didn’t get any benefit from the CBT approach.

The first Criticism on CBT was based on the aspect that it maintains its focus on replacing negative self-concept in clients.

Self -focused aspect claims that it is associated with the illogical and negative thoughts about the self as compared to triggering negative experiences, that actually linked with the overwhelming emotional level such as depression and anxiety which in turn cause the disturbed behavior of an individual.

Dysfunctional behaviors indicated the feeling of loss, social withdrawal, and failure in the attainment of life goals also enhance the feeling of helplessness in individuals.

The main purpose of CBT is to change these illogical beliefs by replacing them with more logical and powerful beliefs.

Although the self-focused approach is beneficial and has a great impact while dealing with the patients of depression and anxiety also has more importance as compared to the medical treatment while dealing with the case of depression and anxiety.  

Criticism on CBT claims that the model of self-focused approach actually complicates the various indications of depression that have cognitive sources such as negative self-image.

Negative cognition include a number of symptoms and faulty cognitions such as decreased self-esteem, self-criticism, negative beliefs related to the past and future, some bad memories of past, flawed understanding of experiences, polarized thinking, jumping to the conclusion and ignoring the basic component of the situation, and also the blockage in the way of receiving positive or optimistic cognitions rather than focus more attention on the negative information related to the self and serve the base of creating a criticism on CBT   

Moreover, there is confusion while differentiating between the cognitive logic behind the negative cognitions and the symptoms of a disorder such as, negative thought patterns enhance negative conversation related to self-acknowledgment, evolution, hopes and implications.

All of the above-mentioned things are considered as the symptoms rather than the cognitive sources that explain the client’s engagement in the behavior of self-criticism, overgeneralization of negative experiences in life, or any other form of dysfunctional thought patterns.

Second Criticism on CBT was based on his terminology such as the term of dysfunctional self-image, negative self-view, illogical belief patterns about self, and unfair thoughts about one’s self are viewed as the same term that is used as an identical or exchangeable way while in reality, every word has a different and deeper meaning as compare to other.

Different research has shown that evaluations of valence either in positive or negative can be independently used and this evaluation can be measured separately. 

Furthermore, there are many cases in which clients appraisals and reporting of their negative or distressing events are very rational and based on real experience.

We can analyze the accuracy of their reporting through distressing events. Let’s consider the example of those who may face any kind of physical or sexual abuse in their lives and those who face difficulties by their loved ones.

Such experiences in life actually left a scar on the people. In this case the technique of cognitive-restructuring is not considered the best way to deal with reality without changing it because in this way the therapy is not dealing with the real problem.

Third Criticism on CBT was based on the concept of a self because various researches indicate that the positive evaluation about one’s self may cause the dysfunctional and illogical patterns of thinking as compare to the negative evaluation about one’s self that is based on the lack of various fields in life such as, education, professional settings, and interpersonal relationships.

Fourth Criticism on CBT is related to the model of self-focus cognition.

This model focuses the attention on the relationship that takes place between the negative thought patterns of the human mind and mental disturbance.

Although experts are unable to find the human phenomena of maintaining his/her attention more on the negative characteristics of oneself and ignoring the positive assessment of his/her self that is quite logical and rational.

The last Criticism on CBT is related to the inability of CBT to merge the two kinds of outcomes such as self-blaming prejudice and the self-serving prejudice.

Although, it is proved by a number of researches that people have the ability and strength to appreciate and view their optimistic self also capable enough to avoid the negative side of themselves also involve the self-serving prejudice such as, attributing the failures in life toward the external factors and considering the success and achievement in life as an internal factor.

Criticism on CBT in comparison to other therapies.

The main criticism on CBT as compared to other therapies is based on the quantity of work while dealing with the client.

Because it is pretty obvious that CBT is a type of active and diverse therapy but when it deals with the clients that are not interested in dealing with the problem with such therapy often make a false assumption that they are not gaining any benefit from the therapeutic procedure and also feel like that this is not a good therapy to deal with their problems.

Psychotherapy is an intervention that can be viewed in various TV shows, movies which inspire others by creating a view that it’s an interesting and secretive approach that treat the patients by hypnotizing them and gaining information about their past by simply allow the patients to lay on the couch and listen to the instructions provided by the therapist.

These kinds of belief systems often increase the level of expectation about any therapy as compared to CBT which is actually not treating the patient in a way they desire rather than focusing their attention on their presence and allow them to take the responsibility of their faults and replace them with strengths.

This allows criticism of the CBT approaches.

There are a number of other problems that serve a cause of criticism on the CBT approach such as people wanting to have a golden key so that they may unlock their unconsciousness and expect the therapist to give them direct suggestions.

Although, it is not related to the procedure of psychotherapy it is actually viewed as the misconception about the therapeutic procedure.   


It is also viewed that people who seem confident while dealing with others by saying that they are expert in CBT, in reality, they are not rather than, they may have an exposure about CBT approaches by reading one or two books related to the phenomena but they never receive any training in their academic career or after that.

Which in turn causes dishonor for those psychologists who are well trained in such therapies. People with OCD and other mental disorders that they never receive any session of CBT rather than the therapist try to deal with their problem by counseling.

It is said that people who provide criticism on CBT are actually unaware of the proper procedure of it and how it deals with the problems or maybe treated by someone who is not trained enough to tackle the problem.

FAQ about Criticism on CBT

What happens if CBT doesn’t work?

When the old-style talk therapy doesn’t seem to be working it is said that it may be caused by a lack of understanding between the therapist and the client.

But in the case of CBT it is so much effective and unique approach while dealing with the complex cases that if it doesn’t work on any client it is simply stated that the client didn’t give his best.

What are the pros and cons of cognitive-behavioral therapy?

Researches have proved that CBT is quite effective while dealing with depression or any other mental health issue as compared to medicine.

As compared to other therapies CBT intervention can be completed in a short duration and effective way.

How successful is CBT?

Various researches claim that CBT is the most effective treatment approach while dealing with depression and anxiety such as while dealing with depression CBT is 50-70 % effective and in case of anxiety 8-15 sessions of CBT is enough.


Psychology today “four drawbacks of cognitive therapy”