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Volume 61 , Issue 8. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username.

A Primer on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, 3rd Edition

Journal of Clinical Psychology Volume 61, Issue 8. Albert Ellis Corresponding Author E-mail address: aiellis aol. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access.

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Abstract This article describes how the author really became a therapist and worked on his own social and performance anxiety. Citing Literature. Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. Browse All Figures Return to Figure. They may feel better when they know, or think they know, how they became disturbed, because insights can feel useful and curative. Only by a combined cognitive, emotive, and behavioral, as well as a quite persistent and forceful attack on one's serious emotional problems, is one likely to significantly ameliorate or remove them, and keep them removed.

Regarding cognitive-affective-behavioral processes in mental functioning and dysfunctioning, originator Albert Ellis explains: [16]. Much of what we call emotion is nothing more nor less than a certain kind — a biased, prejudiced, or strongly evaluative kind — of thought. But emotions and behaviors significantly influence and affect thinking, just as thinking influences emotions and behaviors.

Evaluating is a fundamental characteristic of human organisms and seems to work in a kind of closed circuit with a feedback mechanism : First, perception biases response, and then response tends to bias subsequent perception. Also, prior perceptions appear to bias subsequent perceptions , and prior responses appear to bias subsequent responses. What we call feelings almost always have a pronounced evaluating or appraisal element. REBT then generally proposes that many of these self-defeating cognitive, emotive and behavioral tendencies are both innately biological and indoctrinated early in and during life, and further grow stronger as a person continually revisits, clings and acts on them.

Ellis alludes to similarities between REBT and the general semantics when explaining the role of irrational beliefs in self-defeating tendencies, citing Alfred Korzybski as a significant modern influence on this thinking. REBT differs from other clinical approaches like psychoanalysis in that it places little emphasis on exploring the past, but instead focuses on changing the current evaluations and philosophical thinking-emoting and behaving in relation to themselves, others and the conditions under which people live.

One of the main pillars of REBT is that irrational and dysfunctional ways and patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving are contributing to much, though hardly all, human disturbance and emotional and behavioral self-defeatism and social defeatism. REBT generally teaches that when people turn flexible preferences, desires and wishes into grandiose, absolutistic and fatalistic dictates, this tends to contribute to disturbance and upset.

Albert Ellis has suggested three core beliefs or philosophies that humans tend to disturb themselves through: [16]. REBT commonly posits that at the core of irrational beliefs there often are explicit or implicit rigid demands and commands, and that extreme derivatives like awfulizing, frustration intolerance , people deprecation and over-generalizations are accompanied by these. REBT therefore first teaches that when people in an insensible and devout way overuse absolutistic, dogmatic and rigid "shoulds", "musts", and "oughts", they tend to disturb and upset themselves.

Further REBT generally posits that disturbed evaluations to a large degree occur through over-generalization, wherein people exaggerate and globalize events or traits, usually unwanted events or traits or behavior, out of context, while almost always ignoring the positive events or traits or behaviors. For example, awfulizing is partly mental magnification of the importance of an unwanted situation to a catastrophe or horror , elevating the rating of something from bad to worse than it should be, to beyond totally bad, worse than bad to the intolerable and to a " holocaust ".

The same exaggeration and overgeneralizing occurs with human rating, wherein humans come to be arbitrarily and axiomatically defined by their perceived flaws or misdeeds.

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Frustration intolerance then occurs when a person perceives something to be too difficult, painful or tedious, and by doing so exaggerates these qualities beyond one's ability to cope with them. Essential to REBT theory is also the concept of secondary disturbances which people sometimes construct on top of their primary disturbance. As Ellis emphasizes: [16]. As would be expected, REBT argues that mental wellness and mental health to a large degree results from an adequate amount of self-helping, flexible, logico-empirical ways of thinking, emoting and behaving.

This does not by any means mean that a relatively un-disturbed person never experiences negative feelings, but REBT does hope to keep debilitating and un-healthy emotions and subsequent self-defeating behavior to a minimum. To do this, REBT generally promotes a flexible, un-dogmatic, self-helping and efficient belief system and constructive life philosophy about adversities and human desires and preferences.

REBT clearly acknowledges that people, in addition to disturbing themselves, also are innately constructivists. Because they largely upset themselves with their beliefs, emotions and behaviors, they can be helped to, in a multimodal manner, dispute and question these and develop a more workable, more self-helping set of constructs. As explained, REBT is a therapeutic system of both theory and practices; generally one of the goals of REBT is to help clients see the ways in which they have learned how they often needlessly upset themselves, teach them how to "un-upset" themselves and then how to empower themselves to lead happier and more fulfilling lives.

Although REBT teaches that the therapist or counsellor had better demonstrate unconditional other-acceptance or unconditional positive regard, the therapist is not necessarily always encouraged to build a warm and caring relationship with the client. In traditional REBT, the client together with the therapist, in a structured active-directive manner, often work through a set of target problems and establish a set of therapeutic goals.

Rational emotive behavior therapy - Wikipedia

In these target problems, situational dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and beliefs are assessed in regards to the client's values and goals. After working through these problems, the client learns to generalize insights to other relevant situations. In many cases after going through a client's different target problems, the therapist is interested in examining possible core beliefs and more deep rooted philosophical evaluations and schemas that might account for a wider array of problematic emotions and behaviors. In therapy, the first step often is that the client acknowledges the problems, accepts emotional responsibility for these and has willingness and determination to change.

This normally requires a considerable amount of insight, but as originator Albert Ellis [16] explains:.


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Through the therapeutic process, REBT employs a wide array of forceful and active, meaning multimodal and disputing, methodologies. Central through these methods and techniques is the intent to help the client challenge, dispute and question their destructive and self-defeating cognitions, emotions and behaviors. The methods and techniques incorporate cognitive-philosophic, emotive-evocative-dramatic, and behavioral methods for disputation of the client's irrational and self-defeating constructs and helps the client come up with more rational and self-constructive ones.

REBT seeks to acknowledge that understanding and insight are not enough; in order for clients to significantly change, they had better pinpoint their irrational and self-defeating constructs and work forcefully and actively at changing them to more functional and self-helping ones.

Review of "Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy"

REBT posits that the client must work hard to get better, and in therapy this normally includes a wide array of homework exercises in day-to-day life assigned by the therapist. The assignments may for example include desensitization tasks, i. By doing so, the client is actively acting against the belief that often is contributing significantly to the disturbance. Another factor contributing to the brevity of REBT is that the therapist seeks to empower the client to help himself through future adversities.

REBT only promotes temporary solutions if more fundamental solutions are not found. An ideal successful collaboration between the REBT therapist and a client results in changes to the client's philosophical way of evaluating himself or herself, others, and his or her life, which will likely yield effective results.

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The client then moves toward unconditional self-acceptance, other-acceptance and life-acceptance while striving to live a more self-fulfilling and happier life. REBT and CBT in general have a substantial and strong research base to verify and support both their psychotherapeutic efficiency and their theoretical underpinnings. A great quantity of scientific empirical studies has proven REBT to be an effective and efficient treatment for many kinds of psychopathology, conditions and problems.

In general REBT is arguably one of the most investigated theories in the field of psychotherapy and a large amount of clinical experience and a substantial body of modern psychological research have validated and substantiated many of REBTs theoretical assumptions on personality and psychotherapy. The clinical research on REBT has been criticized both from within and by others.

For instance, originator Albert Ellis has on occasions emphasized the difficulty and complexity of measuring psychotherapeutic effectiveness, because many studies only tend to measure whether clients merely feel better after therapy instead of them getting better and staying better. It has also been argued by Ellis and by other clinicians that REBT theory on numerous occasions has been misunderstood and misconstrued both in research and in general.

Some have criticized REBT for being harsh, formulaic and failing to address deep underlying problems. He repudiated the claim by saying that REBT on the contrary emphasizes that thinking, feeling, and behaving are interrelated and integrated, and that it includes a vast amount of both emotional and behavioural methods in addition to cognitive ones. Ellis has himself in very direct terms criticized opposing approaches such as psychoanalysis , transpersonal psychology and abreactive psychotherapies in addition to on several occasions questioning some of the doctrines in certain religious systems, spiritualism and mysticism.

Prominent REBTers have promoted the importance of high quality and programmatic research, including originator Ellis, a self-proclaimed "passionate skeptic". He has on many occasions been open to challenges and acknowledged errors and inefficiencies in his approach and concurrently revised his theories and practices. REBT has been developed, revised and augmented through the years as understanding and knowledge of psychology and psychotherapy have progressed.

This includes its theoretical concepts, practices and methodology. The teaching of scientific thinking, reasonableness and un-dogmatism has been inherent in REBT as an approach, and these ways of thinking are an inextricable part of REBT's empirical and skeptical nature. Applications and interfaces of REBT are used with a broad range of clinical problems in traditional psychotherapeutic settings such as individual-, group - and family therapy. It is used as a general treatment for a vast number of different conditions and psychological problems normally associated with psychotherapy.

In addition, REBT is used with non-clinical problems and problems of living through counselling , consultation and coaching settings dealing with problems including relationships, social skills, career changes, stress management , assertiveness training, grief, problems with aging, money, weight control etc. Albert Ellis [16] posits three major insights of REBT: Insight 1 — People seeing and accepting the reality that their emotional disturbances at point C are only partially caused by the activating events or adversities at point A that precede C.

Regarding cognitive-affective-behavioral processes in mental functioning and dysfunctioning, originator Albert Ellis explains: [16] "REBT assumes that human thinking, emotion, and action are not really separate or disparate processes, but that they all significantly overlap and are rarely experienced in a pure state. Psychological dysfunction One of the main pillars of REBT is that irrational and dysfunctional ways and patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving are contributing to much, though hardly all, human disturbance and emotional and behavioral self-defeatism and social defeatism.

Albert Ellis has suggested three core beliefs or philosophies that humans tend to disturb themselves through: [16] "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. If I fail in these important—and sacred—respects, that is awful and I am a bad, incompetent, unworthy person, who will probably always fail and deserves to suffer.

Otherwise, it is terrible and they are rotten, bad, unworthy people who will always treat me badly and do not deserve a good life and should be severely punished for acting so abominably to me.

Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy- REBT - Albert Ellis

I can't ever enjoy myself at all. My life is impossible and hardly worth living. Holding this belief when faced with adversity tends to contribute to feelings of anger, rage, fury, and vindictiveness. Holding this belief when faced with adversity tends to contribute to frustration and discomfort, intolerance , self-pity, anger , depression , and to behaviors such as procrastination , avoidance , and inaction.