Foreword by Prof. Stephen Palmer

Foreword by Prof. Stephen Palmer

The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (2010)

Cognitive behavioural therapies are at the cutting edge of modern psychological therapeutic interventions. They are evidence based and therefore are underpinned by much research. In The United Kingdom (UK) the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended cognitive behavioural therapy for depression and anxiety-related disorders such as panics, obsessive compulsive behaviour, body dysmorphic disorder and post traumatic stress disorder (e.g. NICE, 2004, 2005; 2006; 2009). It is no surprise that this interests stakeholders wishing to provide cost-effective psychological therapies to their customers, ie the public, in order to improve wellbeing and reduce financial expenditure. In the UK the Government has taken the next logical step and funded cognitive behavioural therapy training as part of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. Stressed, depressed and anxious citizens cost countries billions of pounds according to the research data, and understandably reducing absenteeism from work due to psychological illness is an attractive target to focus on. An effective IAPT programme can benefit both the country and the individual.

Cognitive behavioural therapy has become one of the main approaches for dealing effectively with a wide range of psychological disorders and this has led to a large increase in the training of health professionals in this approach especially within the UK. Key handbooks available to trainees based on Dr Aaron Temkin Beck’s Cognitive Therapy (Beck, 1976) or Dr Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) (Ellis, 1958) only briefly, if at all, cover the historical roots of these therapies. Dr Albert Ellis in his publications is often more explicit about the early origins of REBT in comparison to the books on Cognitive and Cognitive-behavioural therapy. 

Yet, for many of us something is missing from most of the literature. What has been needed is a book that covers the underlying philosophy of the cognitive behavioural therapies in much greater depth. This book on the Philosophy of Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy by Donald Robertson provides us with the missing link between the theory and the philosophy. This book takes us on a historical journey through millennia and highlights the relevant philosophies and the ideas of the individual philosophers that can inform modern cognitive behavioural therapies. This book also includes some therapeutic techniques that seem to be modern yet were been developed and written about many years ago. It is a fascinating read. The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy could be considered as either a prequel or a sequel to the standard textbook read by a trainee or experienced cognitive behavioural or rational emotive practitioner who wants to understand these approaches to therapy within an historical framework.

Professor Stephen Palmer PhD  FAREBT  FBACP

Director of the Centre for Stress Management, London, UK 


Beck, A.T. (1976). Cognitive Therapy and The Emotional Disorders. New York: International Universities Press.

Ellis, A. (1958). Rational psychotherapy. The Journal of General Psychology, 59, 35-49.

NICE (2004) .Anxiety: Management of anxiety (panic disorder, with or without agoraphobia, and generalised anxiety disorder) in adults in primary, secondary and community care (

NICE (2005). Post-traumatic stress disorder: The management of PTSD in adults and children in primary and secondary care (

NICE (2006). Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Core interventions in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder (

NICE (2009). Depression in adults (update): Depression: the treatment and management of depression in adults National Clinical Practice Guideline 90. (

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