About Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a form of psychotherapy created by Albert Ellis in the 1950's. Initially, Dr Ellis called it Rational Emotive Therapy (RET).
REBT is based on the premise that whenever we become upset, it is not the events taking place in our lives that upset us; it is the beliefs that we hold that cause us to become depressed, anxious, enraged, etc. The idea that our beliefs upset us was first articulated by Epictetus around 2,000 years ago: "Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them."
The Goal of Happiness
Albert Ellis and to REBT, the vast majority of us want to be happy. We want to
be happy whether we are alone or with others; we want to get along with others-especially
with one or two close friends; we want to be well informed and educated; we want
a good job with good pay; and we want to enjoy our leisure time.
The ABC Model
Albert Ellis and REBT
posit that our reaction to having our goals blocked (or even the possibility of
having them blocked) is determined by our beliefs. To illustrate this, Dr. Ellis
developed a simple ABC format to teach people how their beliefs cause their emotional
and behavioral responses:
The Three Basic Musts
all express ourselves differently, according to Albert Ellis and REBT, the beliefs
that upset us are all variations of three common irrational beliefs. Each of the
three common irrational beliefs contains a demand, either about ourselves, other
people, or the world in general. These beliefs are known as "The Three Basic
The goal of REBT is to help people change their irrational beliefs into rational beliefs. Changing beliefs is the real work of therapy and is achieved by the therapist disputing the client's irrational beliefs. For example, the therapist might ask, "Why must you win everyone's approval?" "Where is it written that other people must treat you fairly?" "Just because you want something, why must you have it?" Disputing is the D of the ABC model. When the client tries to answer the therapist's questions, s/he sees that there is no reason why s/he absolutely must have approval, fair treatment, or anything else that s/he wants.
Ellis and REBT contend that although we all think irrationally from time to time,
we can work at eliminating the tendency. It's unlikely that we can ever entirely
eliminate the tendency to think irrationally, but we can reduce the frequency,
the duration, and the intensity of our irrational beliefs by developing three
Emotionally healthy human beings develop an acceptance of reality, even when reality is highly unfortunate and unpleasant. REBT therapists strive to help their clients develop three types of acceptance: (1) unconditional self-acceptance; (2) unconditional other-acceptance; and (3) unconditional life-acceptance. Each of these types of acceptance is based on three core beliefs:
1. I am a fallible
human being; I have my good points and my bad points.
1. Other people
will treat me unfairly from time to time.
1. Life doesn't
always work out the way that I'd like it to.
Clinical experience and a growing supply of experimental evidence show that REBT is effective and efficient at reducing emotional pain. When Albert Ellis created REBT in the 1950's he met with much resistance from others in the mental health field. Today it is one of the most widely-practiced therapies throughout the world. In the early days of REBT, even Dr. Ellis did not clearly see that consistent use of its philosophical system would have such a profound effect on the field of psychotherapy or on the lives of the millions of people who have benefited from it.
About the author
Ross, a close disciple and strong supporter of Albert Ellis, has long-term practice
in the application of REBT in voluntary settings such as a suicide prevention
hotline counselor. His work includes training and mentoring of hot line counselors.
REBT instruction in areas of parenting, relationship management, and stress management.