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Dr. Aaron Beck (1921–2021), father of cognitive therapy

by Kirk Fox

Dr. Aaron Beck was a psychotherapist who was a pioneer in the development of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Pioneer of cognitive behavioral therapy

Dr. Beck developed the groundbreaking cognitive behavioral therapy while he was a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania. The therapy treats depression and other psychiatric problems through changes in thinking and modifying behaviors. Studies have shown cognitive therapy to be very effective in treating disorders. Dr. Beck co-founded the non-profit Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy with his daughter, Dr. Judith Beck, and authored many books on the subject.

Notable Quote

“These people have some capacity to do better, but they have all these defeatist attitudes and expectations; they assume they’re going to fail.” – New York Times


Tributes to Dr. Aaron Beck

“My father dedicated his life to the development and testing of treatments to improve the lives of countless people throughout the world facing health and mental health challenges. He truly transformed the field of mental health with his development of and decades of research in cognitive behavior therapy.” – Dr. Judith Beck  

Full Obituary: New York Times

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