Beck’s cognitive model is taught in the second session in the treatment of anxiety disorders (toc, phobia). These sessions are often done in a group setting in order to involve the patients. Our brain works like a computer processor, its main function is data processing: it is constantly processing sensory information. In a given situation, the brain cannot analyze everything, it has its limits. It will make a selection of the information present in the environment to analyze only a part of it: the perception will not be the same according to the individual. This selection is made possible by cognitive schemas or beliefs. Beliefs are acquired during childhood. Cognitive schemas are not innate, they come from our experience and our beliefs and allow us to select the most relevant information.

This selection will influence our interpretation of the situation, our thoughts, our point of view regarding the situation.

For example: If I serve you a cup of green tea, what do you do before you drink it? What do you pay attention to? The temperature? This is information selection. Information influences patients according to their cognitive patterns and beliefs that are wrong.

They will select everything related to hazards, but not the rest of the environment, which will influence the interpretation of the situation and generate the disaster situation.

As the patient has thoughts of catastrophe, he will have the feeling that he is in danger. Their protection system is set up: this is where the anxiety comes from. It is the interpretation that they make of the environment that leads to the anxiety by the situation itself. Anxiety will provoke escape or rituals for people suffering from OCD. From this model comes cognitive therapy which consists in modifying this interpretation to make it realistic and therefore more serene.

Discover Gray’s neurobiological model, and Barlow’s etiological model. 

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