Cognitive Therapy (CT) is a type of psychotherapy developed by psychoanalytically trained American psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck. CT is one of the therapeutic approaches within the larger group of Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT) and was first expounded by Beck in the 1960s.
Cognitive therapy seeks to help the client overcome difficulties by identifying and changing dysfunctional thinking, behavior, and emotional responses. This involves helping clients develop skills for modifying beliefs, identifying distorted thinking, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors. Treatment is based on collaboration between client and therapist and on testing beliefs. Therapy may consist of testing the assumptions which one makes and identifying how certain of one's usually-unquestioned thoughts are distorted, unrealistic and unhelpful. Once those thoughts have been challenged, one's feelings about the subject matter of those thoughts are more easily subject to change. Beck initially focused on depression and developed a list of "errors" in thinking that he proposed could maintain depression, including arbitrary inference, selective abstraction, over-generalization, and magnification (of negatives) and minimization (of positives).