What Is REBT?

What Is REBT?

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a form of therapy developed by Albert Ellis. In his book Better, Deeper and More Enduring Brief Therapy, he describes REBT as, “a method of psychotherapy…that is intrinsically brief and that also aims to help people achieve an intensive, profoundly philosophical and emotional change.” Individuals who have received years of therapy for mental health or addiction issues know there is no “quick fix” for chronic disorders, but REBT may provide significant symptom relief in a short period of time, especially when combined with additional forms of therapy and treatment.

The History and Development of REBT

Many popular forms of therapy began with ideas and innovations belonging to one person. Albert Ellis is behind REBT just as Marsha Lineman is credited with developing Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), another popular and often effective form of cognitive therapy. Such pioneers usually begin with a new idea about approaching mental health, and this idea gets studied, developed and expanded by the original creators and by practitioners and researchers. The Encyclopedia of Cognitive Behavior Therapy explains that Ellis began to develop REBT in 1955 after becoming dissatisfied with traditional psychoanalysis. Rather than limit himself to one field and one approach, he combined a variety of therapeutic approaches and practical applications of philosophy. His approach changed in subsequent years, and this change is reflected in the evolution of this therapy’s name. REBT was originally called Rational Therapy, but the word “Emotive” was added in 1961 and “Behavior” in 1993 to reflect the inclusion of these concepts. Ellis’s approach to therapy continues to change, as in Better, Deeper and More Enduring Brief Therapy, published in 2013, he admits that REBT continues to evolve in form and philosophy and shares, “When I created REBT in 1955, I knew exactly what it was—and wasn’t. Now, I am not so sure!…I keep revising and amplifying.” A changing, adaptable form of therapy is the best form, as it can grow to reflect the most modern advances and understandings of mental health, addiction and recovery.

What Does REBT Involve?

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy falls under the categorization of a cognitive-behavioral therapy. “A Brief Introduction to Rational Emotive Therapy” explains REBT is, “based on the concept that emotions and behaviors result from cognitive processes; and that it is possible for human beings to modify such processes to achieve different ways of feeling and behaving.” Put more simply this means that changing how we think about self and the world changes how we act and feel.

REBT facilitates these changes through an “ABC” approach to changing beliefs.

  • A is the actual situation and how a person experiences it.
  • B is the beliefs or judgments that come in response to the experience.
  • C is the consequence, the emotion or behavior, that results from those beliefs.

REBT emphasizes that A, the situation, does not directly cause C, the emotion or response. A situation is always filtered through personal beliefs or interpretations.

When B, a person’s beliefs about a situation, are inaccurate, the resulting emotion or action is negative. The Encyclopedia of Cognitive Behavior Therapy explains that inaccurate interpretations of situations are, “rigid, inconsistent with reality, illogical, and self- and relationship-defeating.” The emotions that come from inaccurate beliefs have an overall negative effect on outlook, life and actions. On the other hand rational beliefs acknowledge the reality of a situation and the initial reaction to it while inserting a “but” interpretation such as, “’I want to be approved, but I don’t have to be.’” REBT helps patients realize they create many of their psychological problems even when situations are, rationally, negative in nature. This offers a sense of control and self-efficacy, and sets the stage for change. While REBT places much credit for cognition on individual approaches and attitudes towards life and situation, it does recognize the role biology plays in mental health, addiction development and more, and includes methods and means for managing recovery on a physical or biological level as well.

Is REBT for Me?

REBT is a broad form of therapy that incorporates many types of cognitive therapy, many philosophies and many rational approaches to life and thought. Because of this, its simple concept of changing interpretations to change attitudes and approaches is applicable to many individuals in many situations. It can be adapted and individualized, and it is a form of therapy that is constantly evolving and becoming more effective. REBT can be used in the treatment of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and anger issues, and it is also effective in the treatment of addiction. Because this approach to recovery can address both mental health disorders and addiction, it is an excellent form of therapy for individuals with co-occurring addiction and mental health concerns.

If you face mental health or addiction recovery challenges or find a combination of the two to be keeping you or a loved one from living a full and healthy life, a recovery program that uses REBT and other cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches may be the best option. Call our toll-free helpline to receive a free initial assessment and advice and guidance for finding the best, personalized care for your individual situation. We are here 24 hours a day to take the confusion out of getting treatment. We are here to discuss the various forms of addiction and mental health therapies, help you gain immediate access to care, explore insurance coverage for treatment and answer any other questions you may have.