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Aaron T. Beck
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Aaron Temkin Beck

(1921-07-18) July 18, 1921 (age 102)
Nationality American
Alma mater Brown University, Yale Medical School
Known for his research on psychotherapy, psychopathology, suicide, and psychometrics
Phyllis W. Beck
(m. 1950)
Awards Grawemeyer Award in Psychology (2004)
Lasker Award (2006)
Scientific career
Fields Psychiatrist
Institutions University of Pennsylvania, Center for the Treatment and Prevention of Suicide
Influenced Martin Seligman, Judith S. Beck

Aaron Temkin Beck (born July 18, 1921) is an American psychiatrist and a professor emeritus in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He is thought to be as the father of cognitive therapy, and his theories are widely used in the treatment of clinical depression.

Early life

Beck was born in Providence, Rhode Island to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants. He studied at Brown University and at Yale Medical School.


Beck also developed self-report measures of depression and anxiety including Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Beck Hopelessness Scale, Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation (BSS), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), and Beck Youth Inventories. Beck is known for his research in psychotherapy, psychopathology, suicide, and psychometrics, which led to his creation of cognitive therapy and the BDI, one of the most widely used instruments for measuring depression severity.

Beck worked with psychologist Maria Kovacs in the creation of the Children's Depression Inventory, which used the BDI as a model. Beck's work at the University of Pennsylvania inspired Martin Seligman to create his own cognitive techniques and exercises, and later work on learned helplessness.

Beck is the President Emeritus of the non-profit Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy and the Honorary President of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, which certifies qualified cognitive therapists.

Personal life

Beck married judge Phyllis W. Beck in 1950. Together, they have four children. He lives in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • Beck, A.T., & Haigh, E. A.-P. (2014). Advances in Cognitive Theory and Therapy: The Generic Cognitive Model. Palo Alto, CA: Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. DOI 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032813-153734
  • Beck, A.T. (1967). The diagnosis and management of depression. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN: 0-8122-7674-4
  • Beck, A.T. (1972). Depression: Causes and treatment. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN: 978-0-8122-7652-7
  • Beck, A.T. (1975). Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc. ISBN: 0-8236-0990-1
  • Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York, NY: Guilford Press. ISBN: 0-89862-000-7

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See also

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