What is Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)?

What is Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)?


APA Dictionary of Psychology defines REBT or Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy as a form of cognitive behaviour therapy that is based on the idea that an individual’s self-defeating beliefs influence and may even create negative feelings and behaviours. REBT was developed by Albert Ellis in the 1950s. It is an action-oriented approach that aids individuals in dealing with their irrational beliefs and manages their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours more healthily. Once these irrational beliefs are comprehended by the therapist, they provide therapeutic strategies that would aid the individual in developing healthy interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. As a therapeutic intervention, REBT is useful in treating anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD etc.

History of REBT

Albert Ellis, an American psychotherapist and psychologist, founded and developed rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) after being inspired by many of the ideas of Asian, Greek, Roman, and modern philosophers. REBT is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that was developed by Ellis beginning in the mid-1950s and continued until he died in 2007. REBT holds that people have erroneous beliefs about the conditions in which they find themselves and that these beliefs may be challenged and modified.

REBT is both a psychotherapy theory and practice method and a school of thinking founded by Ellis. He originally presented his theories at an American Psychological Association meeting in 1956, then published a major piece titled “Rational Psychotherapy and Individual Psychology” in 1957 in which he laid the groundwork for what he was calling rational therapy (RT) and carefully responded to questions from Rudolf Dreikurs and others about the similarities and differences with Alfred Adler’s psychology.[10] After Ellis approached him in the mid-1960s, psychiatrist Aaron Beck developed his “cognitive therapy” roughly a decade previously. In 1959, Ellis’ approach was dubbed Rational Emotive Therapy, and in 1992, it was given its current name.

How Does REBT Work?

Rational emotive behaviour therapy is one of the strongest pillars of cognitive behaviour therapy. The major goal of REBT is to help people alter their irrational beliefs and replace them with rational beliefs, thus changing their consequent actions and behaviours positively. It helps individuals address the emotional and behavioural irrationalities they encounter in their lives. The 3 major beliefs that are emphasized through rational emotive behaviour therapy include the following:

  • People are fully responsible for their rational and irrational behavioural responses.
  • People are, on the other hand, completely capable of changing their emotions and thoughts.
  • People should do their best and lead a life with unconditional self-acceptance.

The goal of rational emotive behaviour therapy is to discover and change illogical ideas into positive ones. Although everyone has illogical views, Albert Ellis’ cognitive behaviour therapy argues that people gain three insights that help reduce the inclination to think irrationally.

Read More: What is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy?

1. Irrational beliefs create emotional responses.

Individuals must accept that when they experience negative emotions in response to a certain occurrence, their illogical beliefs also play a role. Individuals can have opinions about a topic, but these opinions are subjective and may not be founded on facts. As a result, illogical ideas might lead to a negative perception of a specific location, person, or event.

Read More: Signs of Emotional Manipulation and How to Respond to It

2. Adherence to erroneous beliefs leads to undesirable behaviour.

Irrational beliefs, according to rational emotive behaviour therapy, cause undesirable symptoms that can harm an individual’s mental health. Irrational thoughts can only lead to unpleasant feelings, which can lead to negative behaviours such as lashing out or being a threat to others. These feelings will also add stress to a person’s mental and physical health.

3. Rational emotive behavior therapy is not a cure, but rather a guide to assist

individuals in shifting from illogical to rational ideas. Although these insights will assist a person in challenging his unreasonable ideas, Albert Ellis
noted that they are not a cure. The key to getting rid of unreasonable thoughts and enhancing your mental health is to be continually aware of them. Following recognition, you must find a strategy to convert your illogical basic ideas into rational beliefs.

REBT intervention mostly involves the application of the ABCDE Model which stands for

  1. Antecedent: An antecedent is an issue or a particular stimulus that causes or activates irrational beliefs or negative emotions in the individual. The antecedent event could be a person, a situation, a triggering conversation etc.
  2. Belief: The letter “B” stands for beliefs. This is where the work in the ABC model is done and where the event’s outcome is determined. The ABC model divides beliefs into two categories:
    • Rigid, irrational, and extreme
    • The primary belief is demandingness; (the need for assistance or attention).
    • Secondary beliefs include predicting terrible or negative outcomes, limited tolerance, and self-depreciation.
  3. Consequence: The letter “C” stands for the consequences. This involves the actions or behaviours that are directly or indirectly caused by the antecedents and irrational beliefs.
  4. Disputations: In the 4th step, individuals are encouraged to challenge and dispute their irrational beliefs that contribute to their negative emotions. it is a restructuring process where individuals examine their irrational thoughts, question them, and try and replace them with rational ones.
  5. Emotional Consequence: After the 4th step, the person actively changes or drives a shift in their irrational thoughts to rational ones. This will subsequently be followed by an experience of a shift in their emotional and behavioural consequences to better and healthier responses and emotions.

Read More: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Benefits of REBT:

REBT is an exceptionally effective kind of psychotherapy, especially when accompanied by medication since it works with the individual and allows them to be actively involved in the therapeutic process. REBT is a multi-functional treatment that can be used to treat not just a variety of psychological diseases (depression and anxiety), but also attitudes, emotions, and behaviors that might contribute to more serious psychological troubles. Furthermore, REBT can be viewed as a psycho-educational paradigm, as it not only helps the individual with their difficulties in the present and the near term, but it can also teach and motivate them to change their way of thinking.

How is it Different From CBT?

Although REBT and CBT are not the same, both therapies were developed by cognitive behavioural theorists. Both approaches argue that suffering is caused by cognitive distortions or erroneous thought processes and that modifying these views would result in changes in feelings and behaviours. The therapist is engaged and directs the sessions in both REBT and CBT, assisting the client through education.

The primary distinctions are the focus of the two therapies and the therapist’s approach. CBT seeks to alter a person’s current behaviour. It focuses on bad behaviours and involves the therapist and client working together. REBT seeks to alter a person’s illogical thoughts. It seeks to help clients think more positively about conditions. During therapy sessions, the therapist confronts the client to motivate them.

Summing Up

According to the definition of rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT), it is our views about the events that contribute to our behaviours, not the events themselves. REBT offers a more philosophical approach to mental health, attempting to transform illogical thoughts and beliefs into more beneficial ones. The theory tells us that it is OK to seek the advice of others, but it is critical to never lose sight of what is best for us. REBT wishes for you to have more self-direction in your life and not to think or feel following what others or the world tell you. You can increase your sense of self-worth and handle life’s obstacles with a clearer head and healthier mentality with treatment and continuous practice. This modification drives happier responses.

Read More Articles from Psychologs +

References +
  • https://cbtguide4students.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/strengths-and-limitations-of-rebt/
  • https://psychcentral.com/lib/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy#rebt-vs-cbt
  • https://bestrehabcentres.com/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy/
  • https://www.verywellhealth.com/abc-therapy-

Leave feedback about this

  • Rating