Rational Emotional and Behavioral Therapy: REBT

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Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

Rational Emotional and Behavioral Therapy: REBT

The theory of REBT has been developed by Albert Ellis in 1955. Albert Ellis was not satisfied with the type of therapy he was trained in at that moment. Therefore, he experimented with different therapeutic models, being inspired by philosophers such as Epictetus, Rusell and Aurelius.
REBT was actually established in several steps:
1. Rational Therapy (RT). First, Ellis developed an approach called Rational Therapy (RT) since he was willing to stress both rational and cognitive features.
2. Rational-Emotive Therapy (RET). In 1961 Ellis made some adjustments to the model and called the result Rational-Emotive Therapy (RET), thereby showing his opponents that he certainly did not overlook the importance of emotions.
3. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). For the same reason he named a further developed version Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.
REBT is a psychotherapy that focuses on finding solutions to both emotional and behavioral problems so that people are able to live a happier life. The theory is based on the ABC-model in which A means an Activating event, B means Beliefs and C means Consequences of having a certain belief about event A.
Note that A is not a cause of C, it just contributes to C.
According to the theory:
- Healthy emotions, practical behavior and realistic thoughts will be created by having rational beliefs about A.
- On the contrary, irrational beliefs are seen as the major cause of dysfunctional emotional and behavioral consequences.

REBT Theory distinguishes four different types of rational beliefs:
1. Rigid versus flexible beliefs
2. Extreme versus non-extreme beliefs
3. Acceptance versus depreciation beliefs
3. High versus low frustration tolerance beliefs

REBT-theory says that all people have the ability to think both rationally and irrationally. Irrational thinking is biologically determined, but the environment is able to change or encourage the way of thinking.
REBT is both optimistic and realistic by arguing that clients are able to counter irrational beliefs into behavior compatible with their rational beliefs when continuously working hard. But the theory also recognizes that the majority will not put enough effort; as a result they will not achieve their psychological health.

Source: Dryden, W. (2005). “Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. “ Encyclopedia of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, pp 321-324.

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