Evaluate the Cognitive approach (8 marks)
The cognitive approach highlights cognitive processes such as attention, perception and thoughts about the self and the world. Abnormal behavior develops because of maladaptive and irrational cognitive processes. One of the most famous cognitive approaches is Beck’s (1979) model of depression; he suggests that there are three negative schemata.
However, the cognitive approach has strengths. The cognitive model offers a useful approach to disorders like depression and anorexia. This is because it considers the role of thoughts and beliefs, which are greatly involved in problems like depression. Another strength is that the cognitive therapies have often successfully treated depression, anxiety, stress and eating disorders. Furthermore, it allows a person to take control and make a positive change to their behavior.
On the other hand, the cognitive approach has limitations. Whilst it offers an explanation for some forms of abnormality it cannot easily explain others. This limits its application in therapy, for example when someone has a severe problem thinking and talking about him or her, such as with schizophrenia. This means that sometimes the cognitive approach has to be combined with another approach. In the example of schizophrenia, a biological approach involving drug therapy might reduce extreme symptoms and make a cognitive approach possible. There is research evidence for cognitive bias and maladaptive thinking in disorders such as depression. For example a study carried out by Burt et al 1995, when participants were asked to recall word lists, depressed participants recall more negative words than non-depressed participants.