Toward a Cognitive Theory of Self-Control

  • Donald Meichenbaum


For the last 10 years we have been conducting research designed to bring together the clinical concerns of semantic, or cognitive, therapists (e.g., Aaron Beck, Albert Ellis, Jerome Frank, George Kelley) and the technology of behavior therapy (e.g., procedures such as operant and aversive conditioning, desensitization, modeling, and behavioral and imagery rehearsal). This marriage of somewhat strange bedfellows has bred a set of therapy procedures that we have come to call cognitive-behavior modification. At one time we tended to call the procedures self-instructional training, but this title was too delimiting, not permitting ample recognition of imagery- and fantasy-based factors in the change process. This program of research has been described elsewhere (Meichenbaum, 1973, 1975b; Meichenbaum and Cameron, 1974). These studies have indicated the promising outcome, in terms of generalization and persistence of treatment effects, that follow from the alteration of “standard” behavior-therapy procedures to include self-instructional and imagery processes. For example, the efficacy of behavior-therapy procedures such as modeling (Meichenbaum, 1971), desensitization (Meichenbaum, 1972), operant conditioning (Meichenbaum and Goodman, 1971), and aversive conditioning (Steffy, Meichenbaum, and Best, 1970) was enhanced by the focusing of treatment of the client’s cognitive processes. See Mahoney’s (1974) recent book for a review of the cognitive-behavior modification literature.


Cognitive Theory Coping Skill Irrational Belief Maladaptive Behavior Aversive Conditioning 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald Meichenbaum
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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