Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Essay by willbfeUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 2005

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Rational-emotive behavior therapy, or REBT, can perhaps be summarized by understanding the A-B-C model for psychotherapy. REBT says that the most common mistake people make is in assuming that adversity (A) is responsible, or causes, emotional consequences (C). For example, one might believe that doing poorly on a project at work (the adversity, or A) is what causes them severe anxiety and stress (the consequence, or C). The REBT therapist, however, argues that it is not the adversity (A) which causes the anxiety and stress (C), but rather it is the individual's perception--their unrealistic and over generalized beliefs (B) about the adversity that causes the anxiety and stress. It was not that a person did poorly on the project, but rather her belief that she must do well on everything she does. This unrealistic belief that she must do well all the time led her to tell herself how "awful" it was that she did not do well.

Thus, it was her perception that she did not do what must be done, and that it is awful that she did not do what must be done, that resulted in her feelings of stress and anxiety. While most people believe that A=C, the REBT therapist shows them that, in reality, A x B = C. If the therapist can adjust the clients thinking by making her realize that she doesn't always have to do well, or that it's not really that "awful" that she didn't do as well as she would have liked, then her feelings of anxiety and stress may be lessened.

Since the REBT model places little emphasis on history, childhood memories, dreams, or free associative thoughts, it makes an excellent tool for brief therapy. From the very first moments of the very first session, the...