Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy – Albert Ellis As I progress through my programs in Christian and Marriage and Family Counseling, I have started to notice a pattern of thoughts beginning to form in terms of the theories that I am drawn to. Although, I am in the development stage of my theoretical orientation, at this point I am leaving towards Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Emotional Behavior Theory (EBT) the theory of Self-Actualization, and the Gottman theory. I imagine as I continue to develop as a Marriage and Family counselor, additional theories may be added or replaced.
I am intensely drawn to the how an individual’s preconceived thought about the events and or situations will ultimately affect his or her emotional response. Thus, I chose Albert Ellis’s theory of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Albert Ellis created REBT in the 1950s. It is a form of psychotherapy. This theory resonated with me in several ways. REBT provides an analysis of the consequential effects of healthy versus unhealthy responses, based on a person’s rational or irrational beliefs about a situation event.
This paper will discuss the views, goals, concepts, and history of the theory and the theorist Albert Ellis. Who is the Theorist Albert Ellis? Dr. Albert Ellis is the founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Born in September, 2013, Ellis is one of the originators of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT). Dr. Ellis practiced psychotherapy, marriage and family counseling, and sex therapy for over sixty years (Ross, 2006). REBT was created because of Dr. Ellis believing that there are inadequate techniques of psychoanalysis and behaviorism (Jorn, 2016).
Initially, Dr. Ellis was met with resistance from people in the mental health field regarding his Rational Emotive Behavior Theory. REBT is now a popular practiced therapy throughout the world. In 1971 he was named Humanist of the year. He holds numerous honors, awards, and recognitions for his contributions to the field of psychology (Ross, 2006). At one phase in his career, he was ranked as one of the “Most Influential Psychologists” by both Amirian and Canadian psychologists and counselors.
Eventually, Dr. Ellis started the Albert Ellis Institute promoted REBT theory and practice through training professionals, Dr. Ellis died on July 24, 2007. Views and Concepts of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) The premise of the theory is that it is the beliefs that we hold that cause irrational negative responses. The concept of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is to focus on uncovering irrational beliefs, that have the potential to lead to unhealthy negative emotions. Negative irrational thoughts and beliefs can hinder a person in their pursuit goals and their overall perception of themselves.
Anxiety and depression can be described as negative emotions. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy offers a client the ability to change their perception or at least consider an alternative to an irrational negative pattern of beliefs. Albert Ellis states that it is the individual’s belief about the situation which will result in either a negative or positive emotional response (cite). An example of an irrational thought is an individual is striving for As’ and B’s in his or her college work, and receives a failing grade in a course.
If the preconceived idea that receiving a failing grade is irrational and means that the person equates himself as a failure, his response will most likely be an unhealthy negative response. However, if the perception of the failed graded is rational, then the response will be a healthy negative response. The example provided speaks to the preconceived thought about the event or situation which is the failing grade. This is what Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy delves into.
Emotionally healthy people develop an acceptance to their reality, even though they understand that their reality can change at any given moment (Counseling Resource, 2014). REBT uses a three step A-B-C framework process. (A) Clarification between the relationship of the activating events, (B) the client’s beliefs about the events, (C) the consequences of a client’s behavior, emotions, and thoughts. The ABC process delves into the client’s psyche and how he or she thinks about an event or situation. If the client has a rational thought regarding a negative experience, more likely he or she will experience a healthy negative response.
However, if there is already an irrational belief, about an event, an individual is more apt to respond with an unhealthy negative response. So, what an individual preconceived thought is about a situation will most likely determine the emotional response. Ellis’s ABC process looks like this: (A) Negative eventa (B) Rational Emotion 0 (C) Healthy Negative Emotion. (A) Negative Eventi (B) Irrational Emotions (C) Unhealthy Negative Emotion. Rational Emotive Therapy clearly shows that what a person believes about a negative event or experience can be a predictor of a healthy or unhealthy response.
This is where REBT goes to work and attempts to shift a client’s irrational preconceived thoughts into a productive pattern of healthy rational responses. There is a second tier of the REBT model. Ellis believes that although we all express ourselves differently, those beliefs comprise of three common irrational beliefs. These beliefs are “The Three Basic Musts. ” I must do well, approval seeking, other people must treat me fairly, they are the issue if I am not treated fairly, and I must get what I want, on my terms. I am upset if I don’t get what I want (cite).
According to Ellis, each must in the three basics speaks to an individual sense of entitlement, my way or no other way will work. Somewhat of a warped mindset and sense of self. One can see how this type of thought process would cause anxiety, depression, angst, turmoil, passive-aggression and eventually self-pity. The Goals of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy I believe it is safe to say that many individuals, including myself, have irrational thoughts from time to time. The goal is to not get stuck in a pattern of irrational thought.
To be able to recognize when one may be entering that abyss of a negative thought pattern is the first step in redirecting that thought. The primary goals of REBT are to (1) facilitate a change in irrational thoughts and behavior (2) Create an inviting productive rational thought (3) Eliminate irrational thoughts, (4) Disputing the negative thoughts of the client (5) Provide insight into the causes of an irrational thought, and (6) Acceptance. Personally, I do not believe complete elimination of negative thoughts can be accomplished. However, emotionally healthy individuals develop and acceptance of their reality.
Even during turmoil, and disappoints acceptance and the reaction to the situation can help facilitate a healthy coping mechanism. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy notes three types of acceptance: Unconditional self-acceptance, unconditional life-acceptance, and unconditional other acceptance (Jorn, 2016). The ability for an individual to be able to rationalize their pattern of thought on the variables speaks to a health and strong sense of self. I do believe that when a person recognizes a negative thought that he or she has the power to stop the thought and redirect into a positive thought.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Additionally, it can greatly depend on the emotional and spiritual health of an individual. To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace, (Romans, 8:6). Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy suggests several ways in which an individual can reduce frequency and intensity of irrational beliefs by developing three insights. The first being that we get upset with inflexible beliefs, second, our beliefs are inflexible, secondly, there is a tendency to cling to irrational beliefs, and lastly, one must work continuously at changing their irrational beliefs (.
It is an ongoing process My Perception of REBT There is an ongoing debate that REBT is less empirically supported than other theories (Malhauser, 2015). Although I am drawn to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, I feel like the tenants of this theory require more depth and inner soul searching from the individuals attempting to explore alternatives to their negative or irrational thought processes. A level of depth that comes from having a personal relationship with God. Viewing this theory from a secular point of view is not enough for the client.
There must be edification from the word of God to effectively reach the client. I like the fact the client is learning to identify their negative preconceived thoughts. By doing so, it allows for a client to possibly be receptive to rational healthy reactions to negative situations. Dr. Ellis stresses that what most individuals want in life is to be happy is all aspects of their lives. As we all know life can dictate differently. When situations arise that derail people from their hopes, desires, and goals, it the reaction to those events that will determine the emotional response.
Having strong coping skills, being emotionally balanced, and a positive attitude can help carry a person through life’s difficulties. However, for one to truly experience the ultimate of happiness, a solid serenity of peace and an all knowing that everything will be okay, must have a relationship with God. There is no way around it. A person may feel like life is great. However, the time will come when God will shake things up a little to get a person to acknowledge him. I do not believe a person can have sustainable happiness throughout life without the presence of God.
From a future therapist perspective, I can see incorporating Ellis’s REBT theory and God for a truly effective counseling session. Years ago, I read a book by Dr. William Dyer, titled You Will See it, When You Believe It. The basic theme is that until a person changes their thought process from negative to positive, and adheres to a faith, then and only then will they be able to rechannel their irrational thoughts. The book title is simply another way of giving definition to faith. Things that are hoped for but unseen.