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Monday, June 15, 2009

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

I would like to ask for some common sense and advise caution for those reading this article about Rational emotive behavior therapy. I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, and I do not claim expertise in these areas. The article is provided as ONLY background information on REBT. It is meant to give the reader some sense of the therapy. In no way is the article attempting to endorse its use or to cover practical background. This is an interesting, informative piece that introduces the reader to therapy that must be handled by professionals. If you become interested in REBT, please read about the subject in depth and consult professionally trained therapists. Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) focuses on resolving emotional and behavioral problems and enabling people to lead happier and more fulfilling lives. REBT was created and developed by American psychotherapist Albert Ellis who was inspired by many of the teachings of Asian, Greek, Roman and modern philosophers. ( Ellis, A. ,1957. Rational psychotherapy and individual psychology. Journal of Individual Psychology, 13, 38-44.) In some ways, REBT practice opposes develop of self concept and ego for success. Albert Ellis has suggested three core beliefs or philosophies that humans tend to disturb themselves through: 1. "I absolutely MUST, under practically all conditions and at all times, perform well (or outstandingly well) and win the approval (or complete love) of significant others." 2. "Other people with whom I relate or associate, absolutely MUST, under practically all conditions and at all times, treat me nicely, considerately and fairly." 3. "The conditions under which I live absolutely MUST, at practically all times, be favorable, safe, hassle-free, and quickly and easily enjoyable, and if they are not that way it's awful and horrible and I can't bear it." (Ellis, Albert, 1994. Reason and Emotion In Psychotherapy, Revised and Updated. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group) Ellis believes holding these beliefs contributes, among other negative feelings, to anxiety, panic, depression, anger, vindictiveness, frustration, and avoidance. REBT, therefore, first teaches that when people in an insensible and devout way overuse absolute, dogmatic and rigid "shoulds, musts, and oughts", they tend to disturb and upset themselves. REBT generally teaches and promotes:
  • That the concepts and philosophies of life of unconditional self-acceptance, other-acceptance, and life-acceptance are effective philosophies of life in achieving mental wellness and mental health.
  • That human beings are inherently fallible and imperfect and that they had better accept their and other human being's totality and humanity, while at the same time not like some of their behaviors and characteristics. That they are better off not measuring their entire self or their "being" and give up the narrow, grandiose and ultimately destructive notion to give themselves any global rating or report card. This is partly because all humans are continually evolving and are far too complex to accurately rate; all humans do both self- and social-defeating and self- and social-helping deeds, and have both beneficial and un-beneficial attributes and traits at certain times and in certain conditions. REBT holds that ideas and feelings about self-worth are largely definitional and are not empirically confirmable or falsifiable.
  • That people had better accept life with its hassles and difficulties not always in accordance with their wants, while trying to change what they can change and live as elegantly as possible with what they can not change. (Ellis, A. ,2001. Feeling better, getting better, staying better. Impact Publishers)
Albert Ellis's theory states that behind all of our negative feelings are “negative conscious and unconscious evaluations, interpretations, and philosophies.” To put this more simply, it is not the bad experience that causes anxiety and stress; rather it is the negative things people tell themselves repeatedly that cause self limiting beliefs and feelings. (Fadhley, 2009, "How Rational Emotive Therapy Works") For example, the idea that "people should always finish what they start" or the idea that "people must always be thoroughly competent" are core irrational ideas in the theory. Ellis identifies negative conscious and unconscious interpretations that cause anxiety and stress and attempts to fix the negative scripts fixed in the patient's mind. Examples of such scripts that cause and sustain neurosis are "I can't have a meaningful relationship" or " I am ugly and undesirable."

One woman had the script that she would never get a boyfriend of the right calibre. Because of this she engaged in “people pleasing” behavior where she wasn’t being true to herself whenever she was with someone that she really liked.

Ellis suggested to her that this wouldn’t be sustainable in a long term relationship and she would be better to just behave like herself. In this way she would enjoy her interactions more and she was more likely to find a compatible partner who loved her for herself. Her homework was to go out on a date and to be true to herself and not to worry about the outcome. (Clinical Applications of Rational-Emotive Therapy, Albert Ellis and Michael E Bernard)

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