Ohio State researchers have been examining the use of Socratic questioning as part of a cognitive therapy approach to help relieve patients of depression symptoms. Socratic questioning, as it is used in cognitive therapy, is a series of guided questions in which the therapist asks a patient to examine their old outlooks on themselves and their place on the world and to consider a new perspective.
“People with depression can get stuck in a negative way of thinking,” said Justin Braun, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in psychology at The Ohio State University.
This guided Socratic questioning allows patients to examine whether or not their negative thoughts are valid and gain a more realistic and expanded perspective of their life.
Cognitive therapy is an evidence-based treatment that helps patients to reduce their depression and protects against future depressive episodes.
The study appeared in a recent issue of the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy.
The study involved 55 patients who completed a questionnaire at the beginning of each session that measured their depressive symptoms. Researchers analyzed video recordings of the first three sessions and measured how often the therapist used Socratic questioning techniques during cognitive therapy
Sessions in which therapists used more Socratic questioning tended to be followed by greater improvements in patients’ depressive symptoms.