Understanding Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

Updated on February 11, 2018
Purpose Embraced profile image

Dr. Yvette Stupart is a clinical counselor and educator. She gives insights on how to experience emotional health and relational well-being.

You can find solutions by understanding and using REBT strategies.
You can find solutions by understanding and using REBT strategies. | Source

Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is considered as the foremost example of a cognitive-behavioral approach. Albert Ellis, who founded the approach, emphasized our thoughts as the way to change our emotions and behavior. Ellis posits the ABC theory of self-disturbing: A for activating event, B for person’s beliefs, and C for emotional, behavioral and cognitive consequences that result from B.

According to Ellis, people contribute to their own psychological problems by how they interpret events and situations. However, clients can learn skills in the therapeutic process that help them to identify and dispute the irrational beliefs they may have.

REBT employs various forms of therapies. The main methods include individual therapy, group therapy, brief therapy, and marriage and family therapy, which utilize cognitive, emotive and behavioral techniques.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

Albert Ellis

Major foci of REBT include self-interest, self-direction, tolerance of self and others, flexibility, self-acceptance, and scientific thinking. The assumption is that people who adopt this type of balanced thinking will experience a minimum of emotional disturbance. This reflects Ellis’ argument that psychological problems stem from the way people think about things.

He calls this the philosophy of “musturbation” which, he explains, is the core of much psychological trouble. This involves irrational ideas that are self-defeating. For example, a person might continually tell himself, "I must do things exceptionally well at all times." Internalized, self-defeating thoughts like this could make the person emotionally disturbed.

There is a twofold goal to help clients "disturb" themselves less emotionally in order to feel better and decrease emotional disturbances. People are able to work towards changing their irrational thinking and self-defeating effects. So the emphasis is on a philosophical restructuring of irrational beliefs that can result in long-lasting changes.

In his book, How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything, Albert Ellis outlines several outcomes of the REBT strategies including:

  • coping with difficult life situations and feeling better when you are faced with them
  • learning to control your emotions and destiny
  • promoting scientific thinking, reason, and reality
  • achieving profound philosophic change and radically new outlook on life
  • taking full responsibility for your "upsetness"
  • using strategies that can change your personality and is backed by objective, scientific experiments.

REBT is an action-oriented, practical approach to managing cognitive, emotional and behavioral disturbances. Through the use of REBT methods and techniques, individuals can develop a philosophy that leads to a more self-enhancing life.

Albert Ellis' A-B-C

A - Activating Events
B - Beliefs
C - Consequences
Facts, events, behavior, attitudes
The person's belief (B) about A causes C
There are emotional and behavioral consequences (healthy or unhealthy)
For example, a person experences depression after losing his job (A)
The person's belief about A is irrational and self-defeating
The feelings of failure result in the depression (C)
Loss of job
"I am a worthless person"
The person feels depressed
 
 
 
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy helps client to identify irrational beliefs, teach them to dispute these beliefs, and substituent logical and rational ones.

Dr. Michael Edelstein: Three Minute REBT

REBT and Issues of Diversity

REBT has a certain appeal from a multicultural perspective. In this approach, therapists function as teachers and clients focus on learning skills to deal with the problems of living. In this respect, REBT is especially appealing to those individuals in cultures who prefer, strong, directive counseling and an active counselor.

It is likely that cultures, where people want their teachers and advisers to be strong and authoritative, would be amenable to these approaches. However, clients in some cultures could find REBT’s direct disputation of their irrational beliefs, realistically, practically and pragmatically intimidating.

People from different cultures tend to appreciate the emphasis on cognition and action. REBT is especially effective for those who prefer a focus on reason and thinking. rather than affect or behavior to bring about a positive change in lives. However, since exploring client’s beliefs play an important role in the REBT approach, therapists need to be careful about challenging client’s beliefs, until they have a deeper understanding of the client’s cultural context.

REBT can help to change irrational self-defeating messages to more self-enhancing self-talk
REBT can help to change irrational self-defeating messages to more self-enhancing self-talk | Source

“People are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things.”

— Albert Ellis

Methods and Techniques Used in REBT

REBT is multi-modal, that is, it uses of many therapeutic techniques including cognitive, emotive and behavioral. However, cognitive interventions are considered to be at the heart of therapy, which involves disputing (D) of irrational beliefs (IB) with vigor and force. The disputing process consists of three steps to detect, debate and discriminate.

According to Ellis, the most effective cognitive disputing methods to use falls under these three realistic, logical and practical headings. Strategies to dispute beliefs, realistically, show clients that there is no evidence to substantiate these beliefs. To dispute irrational beliefs logically is to help clients see their overgeneralization. While pragmatic disputation is to help clients recognize the practical consequences of their irrational beliefs.

The therapist has a presence in the treatment process using influence to effect changes and is seen largely as an educator who seeks to establish the best environment for clients to learn in. However, while REBT regards establishing an effective therapeutic bond between clients and therapists as important, it is not a necessary ingredient for successful therapy.

Test Your Knowledge of REBT

view quiz statistics

Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

REBT posits that people's emotional problems largely result from irrational beliefs. This approach focuses on reason and thinking rather emotion and behavior to bring about positive changes in lives. People can change their disturbances, by first recognizing the self-defeating beliefs, and then dispute them.

REBT uses cognitive, emotive, and behavioral methods to help clients minimize their irrational beliefs. Disputing and replacing self-defeating thoughts could help you to experience a better quality of life.

References and Further Reading

Dryden, W., & Ellis, A. (2001). Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. In Dobson, K. S. (Ed), Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies (295-348). New York: Guilford Press.

Ellis, E. (2001). Rational emotive behavior therapy: Overcoming destructive beliefs, feelings, and behaviors.Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Yvette Stupart PhD

    Share in the conversation ....

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Purpose Embraced profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvette Stupart PhD 

        6 months ago from Jamaica

        Thanks for telling me Lynette. I have made the necessary adjustments.

      • profile image

        Lynette 

        6 months ago

        I think the "correct" answers on the quiz are wrong.

      • Purpose Embraced profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvette Stupart PhD 

        5 years ago from Jamaica

        Thanks for stopping by. Although Beck's Cognitive Therapy and Ellis' REBT both focus on the role of cognitive processes on feelings and behavior, there are differences in emphasis especially in the techniques utilized. For example, REBT employs challenging and debating to help clients let go of their irrational beliefs. In contrast, Beck's Cognitive Therapy helps clients to identify certain patterns of thinking called "schemata," but uses a more collaborative approach, which facilitates clients' playing a more active role in treatment.

      • gsidley profile image

        Dr. Gary L. Sidley 

        5 years ago from Lancashire, England

        Interesting hub about a type of cognitive therapy that seems currently less popular as compared to Beckian CBT.

        I've always found elements of it - such countering a "demand" philosophy to life - very helpful and relevant for some depressed patients.

      • Purpose Embraced profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvette Stupart PhD 

        5 years ago from Jamaica

        MsDora , according to Albert Ellis Ellis, "musturbation" is the irrational belief that things "MUST" be a certain way. For example, I might say, "I MUST be approved or accepted by my colleagues at work." Of course, such beliefs, will bring emotional disturbances, so they should be disputed and replaced with more rational beliefs.

        Thanks for sharing.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        5 years ago from The Caribbean

        The philosophy of “musturbation” is an expression I have not heard before. Made me smile, but it makes sense. It is really a challenge to fully accept the whole concept about changing by thinking. We cannot teach it enough. Thanks and Voted Up!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, healdove.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://healdove.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)