The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 305–319 | Cite as

Improving Cognitive Therapy for Depression with Functional Analytic Psychotherapy: Theory and Case Study

  • Robert J. Kohlenberg
  • Mavis Tsai


A behavioral reconceptualization of cognitive therapy is presented to illustrate that clinical behavior analysis (CBA) has much to offer traditional cognitive behavior therapy. Particular attention is given to the distinction between cognitive structures and products and the theoretical dilemma facing cognitive therapists when they attempt to devise interventions aimed at changing nonbehavioral entities. The distinction between rule-governed and contingency-shaped behavior and the implications of functional analytic psychotherapy (Kohlenberg & Tsai, 1991) are used to resolve the dilemma and to suggest methods for enhancing cognitive therapy. In a case study, a CBA-enhanced version of cognitive therapy was introduced after 7 weeks of standard cognitive treatment for a 35-year-old depressed male. The client-therapist relationship provided opportunities during the therapy session for learning new behavior called for in the behaviorally reconceptualized cognitive therapy. The enhanced treatment improved clinical efficacy and increased the client’s focus on his deficits in interpersonal repertoires. Because the present case study involved only one of several enhancements suggested by CBA, the possibility of increased efficacy from a more comprehensive application is discussed.

Key words

clinical behavior analysis cognitive therapy case study depression functional analytic psychotherapy radical behaviorism behavior therapy 


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Kohlenberg
    • 1
  • Mavis Tsai
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology NI-15University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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