Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is an intensive solution-driven therapy oriented to those whose focus upon chronically negative, self-defeating thoughts and feelings has created a seemingly insurmountable narrative regarding their lives and the world around them. REBT analyzes the nature of irrational and unproductive thoughts and feelings, and shifts the mind from a negative, continually troublesome perspective to a proactive, results-driven active approach to problem solving.
Our minds have the unique ability to learn, think, choose, and reason. By the very operation of our mind, we also have the ability to allow our thoughts to become the lens through which we determine who we “really are”. The thoughts and inclinations which drive and motivate us shape the reality of who we are; these accounts – whether fictionally or factually-based – shape our thinking which ultimately shapes our actions. What you think about matters, because it creates the foundation of who you become.
When our beliefs are clear, rational, and healthy, so is our ability to manage our lives and the events that occur in them. While adversity comes to us all, our emotional approach to the outcome and consequences of difficulties is what determines whether we grow or decompensate. A negative mindset allows us to slide into a defeatist and irrational state of being, opening us up to anxiety, depression, and habitual neuroses. REBT emphasizes the mental and behavioral processes by which, together with a licensed therapist, the client can examine and identify their irrational beliefs, discuss and dispel, and replace them with a rational mentality, thereby reconstructing their attitude and behaviors.
Feelings are not reality, yet for some, feelings have a way of metastasizing beyond momentary experiences and evolving rapidly into a distorted, catastrophic obsessive point of view through which the individual experiences their interactions, situations, and thoughts. This perpetual state of being creates emotional unrest, takes root in the psyche, and eventually manifests in physical symptoms as well. Left unchecked, this catastrophic way of thinking rapidly develops into depression, anxiety, self-deprecation, shame, guilt, and extreme or inappropriate anger. REBT is invaluable to helping change stressful and self-defeating behaviors, such as self-pity, aggression, disordered eating, and procrastination, each of which can cripple the mind and completely disarrange an otherwise bright and promising life.
Together with your therapist, you will discuss and evaluate your life goals and the circumstances, thoughts, and behaviors that may be casting them off-course. You will scrutinize those aberrant, unreasonable, and rigid thought patterns that have become so prevalent in your mind and analyze how they’ve been impeding your happiness and well-being. With the introduction of healthful self-talk, role-play, mental and accountability exercises, positive visualization, and multi-media tools and guides you will begin to see a brighter, more positive outlook, where previously there had only been doom, gloom, and despair. REBT is unique because it sometimes uses humor as a therapeutic tool in an effort to provide a fresh perspective and vantage point through the use of humorous scenarios or songs, cartoon illustrations, or ironic anecdotes. Forming healthier habits and inner dialogue will clear your mental space for optimistic, proactive, more constructive, confident and self-affirming thoughts.
Rational emotive behavioral therapy adopts the A-B-C-D-E paradigm structure:
Activating Event – An external challenging life event that activates and imprints how we feel or think
Belief – The beliefs that stem directly from the activating event, influencing our view of ourselves, our consequent feelings, and our relationship to other people
Consequence – The resulting emotional and/or behavioral response
Dispute – The multi-faceted internal dialogue regarding our response to the present circumstance
Effective behavior – The successful outcome of changed behavior and reversal of irrational beliefs and feelings
REBT allows for healthy discussion, analysis, dissection, and reevaluation of the progression of these processes, providing invaluable awareness that may clarify not only what happened, but where your irrational responses began in response to the situation. This heightened understanding and ability to have an honest “self-check” fosters a greater awareness of oneself, empowering and reinforcing a new way of responding to adversities as they come along in the future.
REBT emphasizes that while our past undoubtedly influences many aspects of our personality and mindset, it is our freedom of choice that allows us to replace that which does not serve our greatest self with healthier, happier, and more positive thoughts and beliefs. Our past is gone; it cannot be changed or erased. While it may provide some frame of reference for what has brought us to the present, our focus from this time on is all that we can control. Replaying false or irrational narratives, laying blame, and regurgitating unpleasant or traumatic experiences does nothing to improve our mindset nor our circumstances, therefore REBT imparts that ‘as a man thinks, so he is’. In this way, it is the responsibility of the client to complete homework and other exercises, rather than the duty of the therapist to soften the world to suit the client’s psyche. Coursework often aims to desensitize the client by having him or her do the very thing that is causing their fear and misapprehensions. This modality also allows the therapist to empower the client to identify and dispute self-defeating beliefs so that the client can help him/herself in the future without the need of therapy or therapeutic intervention. Ultimately, this provides the client with the confidence and privilege of realistic, healthy mechanisms despite his or her difficulties and imperfections.