rational-emotive-therapy

Rational Emotive Therapy

Rational emotive therapy, also known as rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), is a psychotherapy technique based on the idea that how someone thinks is the primary determinant of how they feel.

Understanding rational emotive therapy

Rational emotive behavioral therapy was developed in 1955 by Albert Ellis whose work laid the foundation for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). 

Ellis believed that many were not aware of how their thoughts impacted the way they behaved in important situations or relationships.

Since these tended to be negative thoughts more often than not, the individual experienced a range of negative emotions and engaged in self-destructive behaviors.

REBT is an action-oriented framework that encourages the individual to counter irrational beliefs and negative thought patterns that may cause behavioral or emotional issues.

It is based on the belief that how someone thinks is linked to how they feel and that by replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts, the individual is better able to accept themselves and others.

The five components of rational emotive therapy

Rational emotive therapy is comprised of five components that follow the ABCDE model:

  1. Activating/adverse event (A) – the external event that determines how one thinks or feels. In a workplace, this may be a superior criticizing one’s performance.
  2. Belief (B) – the automated, sub-conscious beliefs we possess about the activating event and the people involved (this includes oneself). The employee may believe they are unlikeable, inadequate, incompetent, or otherwise unable to earn a promotion. Many other irrational beliefs arise from statements prefaced with “I must” or “I should”. 
  3. Consequence (C) – the behavioral or emotional response(s). This usually manifests as poor self-esteem, social anxiety, or depression.
  4. Dispute (D) – at this point, the individual questions or disputes the automated, sub-conscious beliefs and lets them go. This is arguably the most difficult part, but techniques such as journaling, meditation, introspection, and taking an active role in the therapy process usually yield good results.
  5. Effective behavior (E) – the result of the individual having the capacity to resist irrational beliefs and exhibit more positive behavior.

Therapists who are trained in REBT move the patient through the ABCDE process to encourage them to see the connections between the event, their beliefs, and the consequences of those beliefs.

Awareness of these interactions is key to the likelihood of a more positive response to a similar scenario in the future.

Where is rational emotive therapy useful?

Studies support rational emotive therapy as providing benefits to those who suffer from:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Social anxiety disorder.
  • Depression.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Symptoms of psychosis such as delusions or hallucinations.
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) – a childhood disorder characterized by irritability, severe anger, and frequent outbursts.

REBT has also been used in sports psychology to help athletes challenge some of the negative thoughts or ideas that contribute to poor mental health and hinder their performance.

Key takeaways:

  • Rational emotive therapy, also known as rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), is a psychotherapy technique based on the idea that how someone thinks is the primary determinant of how they feel.
  • Rational emotive therapy is comprised of five components that make the individual aware of the connection between their thoughts and feelings and replace them with more positive responses. These components include activating event, belief, consequence, dispute, and effective behavior. 
  • Rational emotive therapy is useful in treating aspects of a range of disorders such as generalized and social anxiety, OCD, DMDD, and depression. It has also been used in sports psychology to remove barriers to high performance.

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Appreciate Inquiry (AI) is an organizational change methodology that focuses on strengths and not on weaknesses. Appreciate Inquiry was created by management professors David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva in the 1980s. The Appreciate Inquiry is also known as the 5-D Cycle, an iterative cycle describing five distinct phases, made of define, discover, dream, design, and destiny.

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