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As the founder of cognitive therapy, Aaron Temkin Beck (1921– ) has shaped the way psychologists and counselors understand psychological disorders and their treatment. Beck’s work, including a comprehensive theory of psychological functioning based on how people process information, the use of empirical research to substantiate his theory, and the development of a therapy consistent with his theory, contributed to a major shift in how mental health professionals view psychological functioning and behavior change. In addition, Beck’s cognitive therapy included the client in the active process of change in a different manner from preceding therapies.

Beck was born in 1921 in Providence, Rhode Island, the youngest child of Russian immigrants who revered education and community involvement. Two of their children died in childhood, and the loss ...

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