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Clarifying the Role of the Socratic Method in CBT: a Survey of Expert Opinion


The Socratic Method is widely described as an important component in the delivery of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). However, there is a lack of clarity regarding the perceived role and importance of the Socratic Method in CBT. A brief questionnaire survey was completed by 15 expert CBT researchers to evaluate the perceived role and function of the Socratic Method in CBT. Survey responses were examined using thematic analysis. Results suggested that respondents believe that the Socratic Method has a number of benefits within CBT and that its effective application necessitates it being applied differentially across individuals and therapeutic tasks. A consensus was not reached amongst respondents regarding the role of the Socratic Method, with some responses describing it as a central feature of CBT whilst others identified it as a valuable adjunct to treatment which is nonessential. The implications of the findings and areas for future research are discussed.

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We would like to thank the researchers who gave their valuable time to participate in the study: Professor David A. Clark, Professor Keith Dobson, Professor Paul Emmelkamp, Professor Mark Freeston, Dr. Nick Grey, Professor Steve Hollon, Dr. Warren Mansell, Professor Patricia van Oppen, Professor Adam Radomsky, Professor Ron Rapee, Professor Zindel Segal, Professor Roz Shafran, Dr. Craig Steel, Dr. Maureen Whittal and those who chose to participate anonymously.

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Correspondence to Gavin I. Clark.

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Ethical approval for this study was obtained from the University of New England Human Research Ethics Committee. All participants chose to participate by responding to an invitation to participate. All participants provided written informed consent to participate in the study.

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Clark, G.I., Egan, S.J. Clarifying the Role of the Socratic Method in CBT: a Survey of Expert Opinion. J Cogn Ther 11, 184–199 (2018).

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