Log in

Statement by Dr. Jeffrey Young on the Passing of Dr. Aaron Beck

03 Nov 2021 5:18 PM | Travis Atkinson

Statement on the Passing of Dr. Aaron Beck


Dear ISST Members,

We all mourn the passing of Dr. Aaron Beck on Monday. As the father of cognitive-behavioral therapies, his contribution to the treatment of patients with mental health disorders throughout the world is unparalleled.

We have lost one of the great pioneers in psychotherapy. He transformed the field with his insistence on detailed treatment protocols; measurable outcomes; and scientific studies to establish the efficacy of cognitive therapy for so many psychiatric conditions.

Dr. Beck will also be admired by those who knew him for his brilliance; his vision and ability to achieve his goals at the highest level; and for his enormous breadth of knowledge and scholarship across so many fields beyond psychiatry.

As schema therapists, we also owe Dr. Beck an enormous debt of gratitude for the role he played in influencing the development of the schema therapy approach. He was the first to introduce the concept of a schema as the core organizing construct in the cognitive therapy model. I borrowed this term from him as the starting point in my attempt to expand cognitive-behavioral therapies to place more emphasis on “deeper”, often unconscious, themes that originate in childhood.

Dr. Beck also influenced schema therapy in less obvious ways. I often observed his unique therapeutic style in working with patients. He would gently ask questions in an empathic, Socratic style - - while also pointing out contradictions between the patient’s beliefs, and actual evidence from their daily life experiences. Watching him eventually led to what we now call empathic confrontation in schema therapy.

On a more personal level, Dr. Beck was my mentor, friend, role model, sounding board, and supporter. I would never have had the confidence to develop a model of my own had he not given me countless opportunities to collaborate with leading authorities in the field when I had only recently finished graduate school. I benefited from our long, private conversations about the nature of schemas, the concept of modes, and even psychoanalysis. We also shared issues from our personal lives with each other, in which he offered me wise, compassionate advice.

Speaking for the entire schema therapy community, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the Beck family for their loss. Dr. Beck was a towering figure in our field - - and we will all miss having him in our lives in so many ways. 

Jeffrey Young, Ph.D.

on behalf of the International Society for Schema Therapy

November 3, 2021

Why Schema Therapy?

Schema therapy has been extensively researched to effectively treat a wide variety of typically treatment resistant conditions, including Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Read our summary of the latest research comparing the dramatic results of schema therapy compared to other standard models of psychotherapy.

"Be the Change You Help Create"

Whether you are a clinician, researcher, educator, or a supporter, we have a place for you in our community. Visit our "Join us" page to find out more about the many benefits ISST offers, and to apply for membership now.
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software