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REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy)

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Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) may not be a method that sounds familiar, but it is a therapy that has existed since the mid-1950s to treat various disorders. It is seen as a psychological orientation, and a man known by Albert Ellis created it. The therapy focuses strictly on thoughts and beliefs, and Ellis came up with it as a response to other therapeutic types of his time.

Psychological theories and therapy were dominated by behaviorism and psychoanalysis in the 1950s. Ellis began as a trained psychoanalyst, but that started to change as he viewed the method as someone that can only address the surface of what someone needed. He felt their symptoms could get worse as a result.

Psychoanalytical thoughts come from the idea that we are driven by an unconscious motivation for sex and power. Behaviorism is the idea that people are a product of their environment, and will continue engaging in behaviors that are both rewarding, as well as reinforced.

Ellis was under the belief that these theories were not complete since they do not tend to the thoughts of an individual. He believed that a pattern of thinking leads to the development of psychological issues like anxiety or depression. The idea became the focal point of his theoretical orientation, which is seen today as REBT.

Why Are Beliefs in REBT Important?

Ellis believed it was necessary to give more attention to the thought processes of individuals. With that, he took things a step further and also focused on their beliefs. In his mind, a belief followed two specific components, which include:

  • Thought is the first stage, which is how someone is going to view a situation
  • Emotions are the second component, which is how someone is going to feel about the situation

Ellis felt that we have several beliefs that dictate our lives. He started to separate those beliefs into two categories, which are:

  • Positive beliefs: These are beliefs that are accurate, valid, and based on facts
  • Negative beliefs: These are beliefs that are invalid, false, and are unfounded in accuracy

Someone with negative beliefs is going to feel worse, while someone with positive feelings is going to feel better and have a greater sense of well-being. It sounds simple, but Ellis wanted to find a way to develop more of these emotive and rational beliefs.

The name, REBT, stems from this model.

The ABC Model of REBT

The focal point of REBT is someone’s beliefs. REBT runs on the idea that situations or events in our lives will not lead to unwanted symptoms or feelings. What will lead to this, however, is someone’s beliefs about the event, which will lead to the consequence. REBT runs on the idea that you must acknowledge what you did wrong.

To reiterate this point, REBT follows an ABC model, which is sometimes viewed as the ABC Theory of Personality. 

The theory points out:

  • A: This represents when the event is activated. The situation is going to trigger the beginning of the cycle. The activating event can be a person, place, thing, event, or thought. It can take place in the past, present, or future.
  • B: The belief held about the activating event.
  • C: The consequence of your beliefs – this can be a thought, behavior, or feeling.

Disputing the Irrational Beliefs

The ABC model believes that for an improvement in symptoms or functioning, a person must challenge an irrational belief. To do so, it will reduce their negative influence the thought pattern has on their life. As a result, it will spawn rational thoughts.

Ellis knew that at one time or another, everyone is going to have irrational beliefs. It’s almost impossible to remove all irrational thoughts from your mind. The goal wasn’t to remove them entirely, but rather reduce the ideas that contributed to unwanted thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The reduction in these symptoms will help people make more room for positive thoughts.

The process of disputing irrational beliefs breaks down in three steps, which include:

  1. Detect: Before you dispute an irrational belief, you need to know that it’s there. You need to gain an understanding of where it starts and its role in your life – this will be accomplished by focusing your reactions to specific situations. You need to ask yourself why you feel this way.
  2. Debate: Once you identify the belief, you must start weighing the evidence for this belief. What is the accuracy? You need to defend both points and clarify your perception.
  3. Decide: The final step is to decide if your belief is rational or irrational. How is this determined? You must note the consequence. Many of these beliefs will lead to unwanted results, which are considered unreasonable.

How Does REBT Help in Addiction Treatment?

When you are facing the long road toward recovery from addiction, REBT will dive deeply into your beliefs and what brought you to using drugs or alcohol in the first place. REBT will show you the significance of acceptance in three ways, which includes:

  • Accepting yourself
  • Accepting others
  • Accepting the world as a whole

REBT is also a strong tool because it works well with other therapies or interventions, which includes:

Sources

Turner, M. J. (2016, September 20). Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Irrational and Rational Beliefs, and the Mental Health of Athletes. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5028385/

Paris, J. (2017, May). Is Psychoanalysis Still Relevant to Psychiatry? from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5459228/

Zoellner, L. A., Feeny, N. C., Eftekhari, A., & Foa, E. B. (2011, July). Changes in negative beliefs following three brief programs for facilitating recovery after assault. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138647/

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015, July 29). Addiction Science. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science

Chanell.baylor. (2019, April 26). Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). from https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment

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