Updated Jan. 3, 2022
Dr. Aaron T. Beck, a pioneering psychotherapist who revolutionized the world of psychiatry in developing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, passed away at the end of 2021 at the age of 100.
His legacy lives on at The Network for Professional Education through his son, CBT trainer and instructor Daniel Beck, and globally through a vast network of practitioners and organizations who base their work in cognitive and behavioral interventions. Prospective practitioners can enroll to earn their CBT certificate now.
Dr. Beck’s influence on the field has been recounted by many:
“The influence of CBT on the treatment of mental disorders is hard to exaggerate. Researchers have adapted the approach — originally developed for depression — to manage panic attacks, addictions, eating disorders, social anxiety, insomnia and obsessive-compulsive disorder,” Benedict Carey said of CBT and Dr. Aaron Beck’s legacy in an obituary for the New York Times.
The Washington Post wrote, “Over the next several decades, Dr. Beck refined his research and therapy techniques until, by the 1990s, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) had become the most widely used form of therapy for the treatment of depression and numerous other disorders. American Psychologist, the journal of the American Psychological Association, named Dr. Beck ‘one of the five most influential psychotherapists of all time.’ Dr. Beck’s contributions to behavioral health have been monumental,” Arthur C. Evans Jr., the association’s chief executive, said in a statement. He “transformed the field and his work brought hope and healing to countless people with clinical depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and other mental health and substance use disorders.”
For Dan Beck, one of the pioneers of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the CBT certificate program he developed a decade ago for BU School of Social Work (BUSSW) and now offers through The Network for Professional Education is a point of pride. “My goal was to ensure this program was really different from sitting in an audience of 200 and reading a presenter’s slides. Instead, students receive very specialized training.” The training begins with Beck himself and his extensive background in the field.
In addition to teaching CBT in the School’s Master of Social Work program, Beck is a faculty member at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy in Bala Cynwyd, Penn., and is a founding fellow of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy (ACT). These credentials, paired with small class sizes, offer a deep and accessible education in CBT. “The class is capped at 14 students. The small size gives me the ability to get to know students well, and for them to get to know each other. And because the program is online, you don’t need to be in Boston to take it.”
Bringing CBT’s Practical Applications & Specialists to the Virtual Classroom
Unlike other mass-market offerings, “the philosophy of this course is to teach people how to do CBT, not about CBT,” says Beck. “It’s light on theory and heavy on skills. People can read up on theory in their own time. I want students to be able to conduct a CBT session once they’re done with the course.”
“In the first six weeks I cover the basics of CBT,” he continues. “Then, over the next six weeks, we show students how to use CBT in different situations—with clients dealing with depression and anxiety, for example, as well as with children.” The result is a well-rounded, practical understanding of the therapy.
As an added value, Beck runs a free bimonthly Zoom meeting on his own, where a rotating group of 30 or so alumni of the program gather to discuss cases. Here, students can see how alumni apply the therapy to any number of real-world scenarios. “It’s fulfilling for me because students from all different CBT courses get to know one another,” he explains.
CBT Instruction for All Licensed Professionals
Since CBT is a valuable therapy for many different professions, each section of the Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions Certificate program brings together various motivated professionals who have been practicing from five to 15 years. “You don’t have to be a social worker to take the course,” Beck notes. “I just ask that you be a licensed professional of some sort. We’ve had nurses and physical therapists who have completed the program, which has really enriched the experience for all participants.”
For an expert instructor like Beck, the best part of the CBT certificate program is that he can bring the evidence-based treatment to a variety of professionals. “CBT is much less interested in events from childhood and more focused on the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors behind whatever clients are dealing with now. It’s very effective. I find students take the course because they feel like they’ve plateaued or gotten stale in the way they do things. Time and time again, participants tell me that this CBT certificate program has changed the direction of their careers.”
Note: BUSSW’s Professional Education Programs (PEP) are now operating under a new model called The Network for Professional Education. The new entity serves as a nexus to connect alumni, faculty, and external agencies to help grow their talents and share expertise nationwide. By partnering with the School’s talented alumni and faculty, The Network will create a collection of teaching and learning opportunities for professionals in health and social work.
Sign up for the CBT Certificate Program