The cognitive approach is a widely recognized psychological perspective that is often used in the field of abnormal psychology. This approach focuses on understanding how people process information and how their thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes influence their behavior. In this article, we will delve deeper into what the cognitive approach entails and its importance in understanding abnormal psychology.

What Is The Cognitive Approach?

The cognitive approach is a psychological perspective that emphasizes the role of mental processes in shaping human behavior. This perspective argues that our thoughts, perceptions, and interpretations of events have a significant impact on our emotional and behavioral responses to those events. The cognitive approach is based on the premise that people actively construct their reality through their thought processes.

Cognitive Processes

Cognitive psychologists focus on understanding the various mental processes involved in perception, attention, memory, language, problem-solving, reasoning, and decision-making. These processes are complex and dynamic, involving multiple levels of analysis from neural networks to conscious awareness.

Cognitive Schema

One of the key concepts in the cognitive approach is cognitive schema. A schema is a mental framework or blueprint that helps individuals organize and interpret information about the world around them.

Schemas are developed through experience and can be influenced by cultural factors. They can also be adaptive or maladaptive depending on how well they fit with reality.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

The cognitive approach has significant implications for clinical practice as it forms the basis for many effective psychological treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT combines elements of both cognitive and behavioral approaches to help individuals overcome various mental health issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders among others.

The Importance Of The Cognitive Approach In Abnormal Psychology

Understanding how individuals process information about themselves and their environment is essential in comprehending abnormal psychology. The cognitive approach provides a unique perspective on how people’s thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes influence their behavior and emotions. This perspective helps us understand the complex interplay between psychological, biological, and social factors that contribute to the development of various mental health issues.

Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases are systematic errors in thinking that can lead to inaccurate judgments and problematic decision-making. They represent a deviation from rationality and can be seen in individuals with various mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among others.

Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive distortions are another important concept in the cognitive approach to abnormal psychology. These are inaccurate or irrational thoughts that can negatively impact an individual’s emotional well-being and behavior. Common cognitive distortions include all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, jumping-to-conclusions, personalization among others.


In conclusion, the cognitive approach is a valuable perspective in understanding abnormal psychology. It highlights the importance of mental processes in shaping human behavior and emotions. The concepts of cognitive schema, cognitive biases, and cognitive distortions provide insight into how our thoughts influence our experiences and can help us develop effective treatments for various mental health issues.