Inception of a discovery: Re-defining the use of Socratic dialogue in cognitive behavioral therapy

Nikolaos Kazantzis, Matthew E. Stuckey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was designed as a psychotherapy to support client ownership and self-confidence in the change process, not simply provide clients with the answers to their problems. In the first published guide for practice, Beck, Rush, Shaw, and Emery (Cognitive therapy of depression, New York: Guilford Press, 1974) described the therapeutic relationship as an environment where the therapist would exemplify the use of questioning to help evaluate the maladaptive beliefs and structures that lead to, or maintain, the client’s emotional distress. However, little research has been undertaken to examine the client’s adoption of self-questioning, or Socratic dialogue as relational process and intervention in CBT. This article presents an introduction to a special series in the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, which aims to build upon previous efforts to unpack the complexities and nuances of Socratic dialogue in CBT by (a) compiling the most current expert opinion on the definition, role, and application of Socratic dialogue; (b) providing an account of key elements of the dialogue process; and (c) presenting the latest empirical examination of behavioral shaping as a potential mechanism underlying the change process during Socratic dialogue. In providing a greater conceptual understanding of contemporary issues and knowledge regarding core CBT processes, it is hoped that this special series will also encourage the practitioners to ask more questions of their own practice, as well as the gaps in the existing knowledge base, thereby widening the pathway for further scientific discoveries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-123
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Cognitive Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Socratic dialogue
  • Socratic questioning
  • review

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