Collaborative Empiricism, Guided Discovery, and the Socratic Method: Core Processes for Effective Cognitive Therapy


Address correspondence to James C. Overholser, Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-7123. E-mail:


[Clin Psychol Sci Prac 18: 62–66, 2011]

Cognitive therapy sessions typically blend content and process issues to help clients make effective changes in their attitudes, beliefs, and expectations. Collaborative empiricism helps therapists and clients work together to examine the evidence supporting or refuting the client’s beliefs. In a similar manner, guided discovery helps to structure the process of therapy toward an exploration of critical issues involved in the client’s struggles. Finally, the Socratic method provides a comprehensive framework for the complex processes involved in therapy, while remaining aligned with the core concepts of cognitive therapy. These process issues may force the field to confront the mixed blessing derived from structured treatment manuals, psycho-educational approaches, and directive forms of therapy.