What is REBT and why might it be the right therapeutic intervention for you and/or your family?

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) was developed by psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis as a more active form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Dr. Ellis earned his doctorate from Columbia University in New York and during the first decade of his career as a psychoanalyst, he observed that his clients progressed quicker in treatment when he took a more active role that he learned while providing family and sex counseling – interjecting advice and direct interpretations – than when he utilized the more passive psychoanalytic technique. In 1955, Dr. Ellis focused his work with clients on confronting their irrational beliefs directly and replacing them with rational thoughts, thus was the birth of REBT.

In simple terms, REBT is founded on the idea that people have the power to think their way out of emotional distress. In order to accomplish this, REBT utilizes the ABCDE model to teach individuals how to understand and alter the relationship between their thoughts, emotions and behavior.

Below are the components of the ABCDE model:

A = Activating event (Something happens that triggers worry or stress; i.e. “You are getting a divorce.”)

B= Belief system (This is the individual’s own perceptions about the event or adversity – often counterproductive and irrational; i.e. “I will never find or know love again.”)

C= Consequence (Behavior that occurs both internally and externally as a result of B – sometimes referred to as “self-fulfilling prophecies,” i.e. “Because I will never find love again, I will not put myself ‘out there’ to find new love” – which results in missed opportunities for new love.)

D = Dispute (The act of challenging of irrational beliefs and thoughts as directly as possible in an effort to replace negative, unrealistic thinking with more rational and productive assessments and plans when facing issues, i.e. “Although it may take time, I am capable of loving and being loved and I can do so again.”)

E= Effect (The results of challenging a self-defeating belief and replacing it with new, adaptive, and effective beliefs – hopefully resulting in the reduction of the symptoms of stress and anxiety, sometimes called “cognitive restructuring,” i.e. “When I am ready, I will sign up for dating sites as I know I am worthy of love.”)

REBT recognizes that humans often have irrational thoughts which are sometimes ruminated on (repeated internally over and over) to the point that it effects a person’s behavior and even mental health, especially when facing adversity or a challenge. By teaching an individual how to recognize and dispute irrational beliefs and thoughts, they are, in effect, learning how to think more rationally and logically, which results in more effective problem solving skills and the reduction of stress surrounding difficult situations.

If you recognize yourself or a loved one often getting “stuck” in a negative loop or downward spiral, it could be that a troublesome thinking pattern is the culprit. Sherry Blair Institute offers in-home and in-community counseling services grounded in the REBT method for families and individuals. For more information or to schedule an initial meeting or services, please reach out, we are here to help.


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