Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pioneer of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy Honored With New Award

Edward Kennedy Jr., son of the late Massachusetts senator who fought so long for mental health parity, presented Aaron Beck, M.D., with the first Kennedy Forum Community Mental Health Award for his work in developing cognitive-behavior therapy. Beck (shown in the center of the photo between APA President Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., and APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A.) was honored Wednesday evening at a gala dinner held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Beck first became interested in mental illness in the years before passage of the Community Mental Health Act in 1963, he recalled. “Those were the ‘snakepit’ days, when they used insulin therapy and lobotomies."

The modern recovery movement, by contrast, seeks to reintegrate people with mental illness into the community, which not only can make them happier, more productive citizens, he said, but also often lessens the severity of their symptoms. “We don’t have to be so symptom oriented when we realize the patient is a real person,” Beck concluded.

With a nod to the World Series beginning across town as he spoke, Beck said that he originally became interested in depression because he was a Boston Red Sox fan in the years when the team was in the doldrums. Now that the team was in the World Series again, Beck thought he might have to switch to studying mania instead.

(image: Aaron Levin/Psychiatric News)


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