Posted: February 15, 2018 13:50
Topics: Socrates, Depression

shutterstock_208339804-cropped.jpgGreek Philosopher, Socrates taught his students to ask questions to find their own solutions rather than handing them the answer. In an article recently published in Behavior Research and Therapy (Braun, Strunk, Sasso, & Cooper, 2015), the authors suggest that the more therapists used Socratic questioning with their patients, the more relief patients felt from their depressive symptoms.  You might ask, “What? The more questions that my therapist asks me, the less depressed I will feel?”  This is exactly what Justin Braun, co-author and doctoral student in psychology at The Ohio State University suggests.  Braun states that Socratic questioning has been a core component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which emphasizes the important role of thinking in how people feel and what they do.

 Therapists using the Socratic approach ask a series of guided questions to help their patients reconsider negative thoughts. For example, a patient may tell his therapist that he feels like a total failure and life isn’t worth living because his marriage ended in divorce. The therapist may ask questions to challenge this belief: Is everyone who experiences divorce a failure? Can you think of anyone for whom this is not true? Is there any evidence that you have succeeded and thus have not been a “total failure?”

The authors of this study indicate that by using Socratic questioning, greater symptom reductions immediately following the session are predicted. We think these questions enable clients to reconsider their negative thoughts, which ultimately helps them feel better.”
Braun, J.D., Strunk, D.R., Sasso, K.E., & Cooper, A.A. (July, 2015). Therapist use of Socratic questioning predicts session-to-session symptom change in cognitive therapy for depression. Behavior Research and Therapy, 70, 32-37.
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