International Journal of Cognitive Therapy

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 124–139 | Cite as

Guided Discovery: a Clinical Strategy Derived from the Socratic Method

  • James C. OverholserEmail author
Special Issue on Socratic Dialogue


Guided discovery is closely linked to the Socratic method. The present paper explains one view of guided discovery based on an integration of ancient philosophy, contemporary cognitive therapy, and recent clinical experience. Guided discovery can be viewed as a process that relies on eight components (i.e., intellectual modesty, empathic listening, systematic questioning, trust in the client’s abilities, redirection to maintain focus, activities completed between sessions, highlighting useful material, and occasional brief explanations). Guided discovery uses inductive reasoning to help clients search for new information on their path toward effective solutions. The process of therapy is improved through a sincere search for new information, minimizing the role of therapist as expert or teacher. The therapeutic dialogue relies on several core beliefs that underlie the use of guided discovery and may provide appropriate goals for the discovery process. Finally, a metaphor is used to appreciate the proper use of guided discovery.


Cognitive psychotherapy Socratic method 


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Copyright information

© International Association of Cognitive Psychotherapy 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Case Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

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