Albert Ellis’ REBT: Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

REBT stands for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, which was developed by Albert Ellis according to the principles of cognitive therapy.
Albert Ellis' REBT: Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Due to the ineffectiveness of behavioral therapy (based on stimulus response) to improve certain psychological disorders, researchers began using Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and the results improved. Therefore, REBT is an example of an innovative technique that has had promising results in disorders such as anxiety and depression.

This therapy is based on the ABC model from cognitive psychology. It was originally proposed by Albert Ellis. It suggests that trigger experiences (A) do not cause emotional, cognitive, or behavioral consequences alone (C).

These depend on how the experience is perceived or interpreted (B). In short, A (experiences) causes B (interpretations), and these cause C (consequences / behaviors).

Albert Ellis the man behind Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

The psychological pillars of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

The ultimate goal of REBT is to eliminate or change C. At first glance, C could be changed by changing the experience (A) as well as the interpretation (B). But, of course, these experiences often cannot be changed.

In this form of therapy, therefore, the psychologist focuses on trying to change the patient’s interpretations. These interpretations then lead to the behavior we are trying to change.

The root of disturbances

Albert Ellis found, after a lot of research, that all (or at least most of us) develop irrational thoughts that make reality look extremely negative. He found over 200 thoughts or ideas that strengthened this view of the world. These are ideas that lead to anxiety or depression. Now we divide these irrational ideas into 4 types:

  • Demanding: ” If my boyfriend loved me, he would have given me a gift.”
  • Disaster Thinking: “If I do poorly for the interview tomorrow, it will be the end of my career. I die!”
  • Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT): “I’m afraid to go to the party because everyone will definitely reject me. It’s too hard and I can not stand it. “
  • Reduction: “I burned my lunch on. I’m incompetent. I’m ruining everything. ”

This type of ideas is seen as irrational. They are not true, are illogical, extreme or too demanding. Ellis confirms that they come from perfectionist ideas. Many come what we “should” or “would” do in our inner dialogues.

The maintenance of interference

The above thought patterns cause negative emotional or behavioral consequences, but… what sustains them? According to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, there are three types of insights or ideas that perpetuate disorders in the long run:

  • Insight # 1: The disorder depends on irrational interpretations that come from negative experiences. However, if the individual believes that the emotional disturbance is due to the experience rather than its interpretation, they will not be able to change the situation. The real problem is their irrational ideas.
  • Insight # 2: If people keep reaffirming their rigid and extremist ideas, those thoughts will resist change. Therefore, the disturbance will continue.
  • Insight # 3: A thought focused on the past will cause a stagnation of experiences and the individual’s irrational ideas. Only by working with the present and the future will you be able to change your ideas. And, with them, your discomfort.
A head that is missing a puzzle piece

REBT’s features

To talk about REBT, we need to look at it from two perspectives. The first is the therapeutic approach, which will refer to its strategies and methods. The second is the relationship that develops with the client; the way the therapist and the client work together.

The therapist’s attitude will have the following characteristics:

  • Active and directive: It is important that the therapist adopts an active attitude and offers the client alternatives to their irrational ideas.
  • Verbal active: It is crucial that the dialogue is fluid and active on both sides, as this therapy is based on discussion and debate.
  • Didactic: The therapist must behave like a good professor who teaches his students to create changes in themselves.
  • Encourage changes in the client’s philosophy of life: It is crucial to encourage changes in the way the client thinks in their approach to life.
  • Do not encourage catharsis: It may relieve discomfort to begin with. But the intentional expression of emotion that springs from a particular idea can actually strengthen that idea.
  • Be flexible: Each patient is a snowflake, with their own unique mindset. If the therapist is not flexible and can not figure out how to adapt, they will not be able to create change in their clients.

Therapist-client relationship in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

On the other hand, the relationship between the client and the therapist will be based on the following principles:

  • Unconditional acceptance: There should be no judgmental behavior, positive or negative, towards the client. The therapist must show their clients that they are accepted just like everyone else. That they are human, fallible, not incompetent or worthless. No single behavior can define a human being.
  • Empathy: Understanding the client’s mindset is a crucial part of understanding their ideas. Therapists should understand each client’s life philosophy to help them change.
  • Be genuine: The therapist must be open and receptive. They can even talk about their own personal lives when appropriate to show the client that we are all experiencing adversity and making mistakes. Personal experiences can not help find solutions, but it can normalize certain emotions.
  • Have a sense of humor: This is one of the main points of REBT, as it is a therapy based on restlessness and calm. The therapist must use humor to highlight aspects of the irrational ideas. Of course, without treating the client with disrespect. The therapist must, in this way, remember that each client’s temperament is different.
  • Informal therapeutic style: REBT works better in a relaxed environment, a very different from the typical formalities of therapy. The client should see therapy as a friendly and fun conversation. A time when they can talk about their concerns and ideas in a relaxed way.
A client in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Ellis’ heritage…

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is an interesting and usually satisfying therapy for clients. It helps them change their philosophy of life and adopt a more protective style when faced with issues that may cause anxiety or depression.

There is also plenty of scientific evidence to support that. This therapy made Albert Ellis one of the most important divr in clinical psychology.

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