• Question: To what extent do you believe that the cognitive approach is suitable for explaining the majority of mental health disorders?

    Asked by dos to Rob, Olly, Nicola, Jasmin, Dennis, Caroline on 12 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Caroline Brett

      Caroline Brett answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      The cognitive approach certainly can be helpful in explaining how certain mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety can develop and get worse, however I don’t think it is as simple as that. There are a lot of factors that contribute to mental health disorders – genetics (particularly in the case of schizophrenia and similar disorders), environment, upbringing, personality – and it’s important to remember that the mind and body are very strongly linked.
      I’m sure we’ve all experienced a time when we’ve been feeling down about something. Sometimes it helps to rethink things (cognitive re-appraisal) and other times all we need is a good sleep, or to spend time with friends. Therefore the cognitive approach can’t explain everything…

    • Photo: Dennis Relojo-Howell

      Dennis Relojo-Howell answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      There are reasons why there are so many approaches to psychology and not just cognitive – it’s because you can’t really put mental health issues in a box.

      Cognitive approach can be useful, but not all the time. For instance, someone who is suffering from depression might benefit more from humanistic approach.

    • Photo: Jasmin Moon

      Jasmin Moon answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      The cognitive approach is useful, but I think it needs to be used alongside a biological and a social approach too because all three of these aspects interact with each other. It’s important to consider all three factors when considering why a mental health problem has occurred and how best to treat it.

    • Photo: Robert Dempsey

      Robert Dempsey answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      I think there’s a lot of promise for cognitive-based approaches towards understanding mental health experiences – alongside other approaches (bio, social, developmental). It’s rare for these approaches to be completely distinct from one another. For example, our biology may influence our cognitive abilities… our upbringing may influence how we understand and mentally represent our social world. There are some unique cognitive factors associated with specific mental health experiences though – for example, ‘worry’ is very much related to anxiety and Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and there’s a lot of work using something called ‘metacognitive therapy’ which aims to address types of worry-related cognitions and reduce anxiety/GAD.

    • Photo: Nicola Johnstone

      Nicola Johnstone answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      Cognitive can be useful for treatment in changing behaviour but it is a long, slow process. The explanatory power in my opinion is limited. We need to understand the physiological, neurochemical and functional brain processes to better develop effective treatments. This includes looking at how people live and interact.

    • Photo: Oliver Clabburn

      Oliver Clabburn answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      As the other scientists have said, the cognitive approach can be really useful, but i think that it’s best use is when it’s paired with other approaches too. Sometimes it’s not just about changing the cognitive processes, but considering other variables too. I think other influences like societal and biological are also really important.

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