Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy

The Use of Questions in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Identification of Question Type, Function and Structure 1

Ian A. James a1c1 and Rachel Morse a2
a1 Newcastle General Hospital, and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Trust, UK
a2 University of Newcastle, UK

Article author query
james ia   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
morse r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


An exploration of trainees' abilities to identify question types, their function and the process of questioning was carried out with 25 trainees who were studying for either a Diploma in Cognitive Therapy or a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. The results showed that trainees were best at determining the functions of questions, but were poor overall at identifying the different elements of questioning. This study highlights the absence of terminology for breaking down therapeutic dialogue into its component parts. It is concluded that research is needed to explore ways in which the components of questioning can be better articulated and conceptualized so as to aid our ability to reflect on questions in a meaningful way.

(Published Online June 11 2007)

Key Words: Questioning; communication; process; micro-skills; dialogue.

c1 Reprint requests to Ian A James, Centre for the Health of the Elderly, Newcastle General Hospital, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 6BE, UK. E-mail:


1 An extended version is also available online in the table of contents for this issue: