Socratic Method of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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The Socratic method also has non-classroom applications. For example, it’s frequently used as a therapeutic technique to help patients explore and analyze their own thoughts and behaviors (Center for Deployment Psychology). When used in cognitive behavioral therapy, the Socratic method serves as a non-confrontational approach to challenging the client’s ideas (Clark and Egan 3), while also providing them an opportunity to sort out discrepancies in their rationale (5). Currently, research suggests that the Socratic method encourages cognitive reappraisal, which has been proven to improve patient well-being (Clark and Egan 9). Cognitive reappraisal refers to mentally reframing an experience in an effort to “change its emotional impact” (Troy, et. al). Therefore it is reasonable to include that usage of Socratic-style questioning in psychotherapy can lead to improved patient outcomes. There is a lack of empirical data on whether or not the Socratic method itself res. The efficacy of the Socratic method in cognitive behavioral therapy most likely stems from the fact that insights and conclusions are more influential when the patient discovers them themselves, versus being told something by their therapist (Clark and Egan 4). Because the Socratic method is based on ideas of self-discovery and independent thinking, it is a key aspect of effective cognitive behavioral therapy.

There are some limitations to the Socratic method’s usefulness in a therapeutic setting. Like with education, relying too heavily on Socratic questioning can be harmful. The best practice is to switch between Socratic-style questioning and non-Socratic dialogue (Clark and Egan 6). Additionally, due to the nature of psychotherapy and the Socratic method, namely the wide variation of issues and methods it employs, current research cannot say for certain whether the usage of the Socratic method is solely responsible for the success of cognitive behavioral therapy (Clark and Egan 2). Therefore the Socratic method should be treated as merely a tool for cognitive behavioral therapists to utilize, and not as a cure-all solution to psychological problems.

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In conclusion, despite its old age, the Socratic method remains an effective tool with many applications. The open-ended, inquisitive and challenging structure encourages participants to think critically, analyze deeply, and defend their rationale. It leads to heightened awareness of one’s thought processes and behaviors, and its self-discovering nature leads to more effective and lasting learning than other strategies. Considering these factors, the Socratic method is an invaluable and enduring technique that can and should be used for years to come.

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Socratic Method of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“Socratic Method of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
Socratic Method of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2024].
Socratic Method of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2024 Jun 21]. Available from:

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