Scott Waltman is a clinical psychologist changing the industry’s landscape with his revolutionary book, Socratic Questioning for Therapists and Counselors: Learn to Think and Interview like a CBT therapist. The book builds on the framework devised by Waltman. The book has received critical acclaim, with Scott being invited to present the model at international conferences. It’s also being translated into different languages, including Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Turkish, and Russian. First, however, understanding the book’s concepts requires learning more about the psychologist’s journey and his association with Dr. Beck.
Scott went to graduate school at Pacific University in Oregon. After graduating, he pursued a pre-doctoral internship at the Colorado Mental Institute in Pueblo and followed it with a postdoctoral fellowship at the UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California. These experiences would help him gain vital experience, helping him land a role as a cognitive behavior therapy trainer at the University of Pennsylvania, where he would be introduced to Dr. Aaron T. Beck, the originator of cognitive therapy and one of the most influential psychiatrists of all time. In addition, his role required him to work under Dr. Beck’s supervision, which would be a phenomenal opportunity for him to grow as a psychologist.
His time as a cognitive behavioral therapy trainer at the University of Pennsylvania was also pivotal because it required him to train Frontline Community mental health therapists in high-quality CBT because of an ongoing partnership between the university and the City of Philadelphia. The training would also benefit the community mental health therapists because they typically don’t have the means or time to receive such high-caliber training sessions. Meanwhile, Scott Waltman gained the opportunity to develop some experience as a CBT trainer, which would prove pivotal in his later work with Dr. Beck.
However, as previously mentioned, Scott’s work with Dr. Beck would serve as the foundation for his book. The team provided intensive training and ongoing oversight for clinicians. It would require performing regular clinical case consultations and reviewing recorded sessions. During their work, the duo noticed several pitfalls preventing clinicians from learning CBT properly. Thus, they had a hypothesis and conducted an in-depth mixed methods study to see whether their assumptions about clinicians struggling to learn Socratic questions correctly were correct.
The study’s findings showed nearly every clinician struggled to learn how to do Socratic questioning effectively. Moreover, they also struggled to improve even when provided with ongoing support. As a result, the pair delved into their findings to assess the mistakes clinicians would regularly make. They discovered that most were too focused on making clients examine things from their viewpoints, resulting in friction. Interactions would become confrontational instead of collaborative because of the strategies clinicians adopted.
As a result, they decided they needed to overhaul how clinicians learn Socratic questioning. First, they studied how expert and renowned clinicians use the method. Then, they collated information to create a new framework to teach other clinicians. Finally, the duo ensured the newly designed framework accounted for correcting common mistakes clinicians make while teaching clinicians how to use chronic questioning. The pair’s hard work paid off because they created a framework that requires clinicians to slow down and be strategic about their focus. The framework teaches clinicians the importance of understanding things from a client’s perspective. Then, they must understand how to reconcile the client’s perspective with the situation’s context because doing so allows them to collaborate properly. Finally, clinicians can help clients develop concrete behavior steps to address harmful behaviors.