Yale Psychiatry Distinguished Alumni Award

2012: Aaron T. Beck, MD '46

Aaron T. Beck, MD '46 is regarded as the father of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and a leading psychiatric researcher. He has been credited with shaping the face of American psychiatry, and his psychological theories have impacted clinicians, researchers, and academics throughout the world. The American Psychologist has called him "one of the five most influential psychotherapists of all time."

Dr. Beck has also developed a number of self-report scales to measure psychopathology including the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Beck Hopelessness Scale, Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation (BSS), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), and Beck Youth Inventories. These scales are used internationally and are commonly used in most clinical research studies examining psychopathology.

In 1946, Dr. Beck received his MD from Yale University School of Medicine. Originally trained as a psychoanalyst, his explorations into psychoanalytic concepts of depression while working as a psychiatrist led to his development of CBT, which has since been demonstrated to be effective for a wide variety of disorders.

He has participated on review panels of the National Institutes of Mental Health, served on the editorial boards of many journals and lectured around the world. He has been a visiting scientist of the Medical Research Council at Oxford and a visiting professor at Yale, Harvard and Columbia. Dr. Beck has been the recipient of the Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Science (often labeled "America's Nobel").

Dr. Beck is an emeritus professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and president emeritus of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research.

Beck's research continues to focus on cognitive therapy and its dissemination into community settings as well as therapeutic approaches for suicide prevention and schizophrenia.