International Journal of Cognitive Therapy

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 200–221 | Cite as

Verbal Change and Cognitive Change: Conceptual and Methodological Analysis for the Study of Cognitive Restructuring Using the Socratic Dialog

  • María Xesús Froján-PargaEmail author
  • Ana Calero-Elvira
  • Rebeca Pardo-Cebrián
  • Miguel Núñez de Prado-Gordillo
Special Issue on Socratic Dialogue


In this paper, we will firstly delve in a behaviorally rooted theoretical analysis of the learning processes that could be involved in the employment of Socratic dialog as a means to achieve cognitive restructuring. Three observers analyzed the case of study attending to the client–therapist interaction during the cognitive restructuring using the Socratic method. Different types of Discriminative Stimulus–Response–Reinforcement interaction sequences were specified during the debate and after the client’s pro-therapeutic verbalizations. A progressive increase in the frequency of pro-therapeutic verbalizations was observed. Taking into account the limitations of a case study, our results seem to fit those obtained in previous studies and suggest a possible explanation of the therapeutic process in general and the Socratic method in particular (at least as it is employed here) in terms of verbal shaping and verbal chaining. These processes would lead to the learning of rational thoughts which, in turn, would guide the client’s overt behavior to make it more pro-therapeutic.


Socratic method Behaviorist standpoint Client–therapist interaction Verbal shaping Verbal chaining 



This research was funded by the Spanish Government (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, I + D + I Research Grants SEJ2007-66537-PSIC, PSI2010-15908). The funding source had no involvement in the design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data, the writing of the paper, nor in the decision to submit the article for publication.


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© International Association of Cognitive Psychotherapy 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • María Xesús Froján-Parga
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ana Calero-Elvira
    • 1
  • Rebeca Pardo-Cebrián
    • 1
  • Miguel Núñez de Prado-Gordillo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Health PsychologyUniversidad Autónoma de Madrid (Campus de Cantoblanco)MadridSpain

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