Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
University of Texas Arlington
This paper will use Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) to work with client Laura. REBT was created by Albert Ellis, and looks at how unhealthy thoughts influence beliefs and behaviors. Laura expressed that she has reached a point where her fears of rejection and not seeming good enough are holding her back from interacting with colleagues and those that are in her daily life. She realizes these fears are holding her back, and has decided to seek treatment for being at a low spot in her life with these feelings and the depression being experienced.
In looking a Laura’s case, it seems that Laura puts emphasis on the fact that she is afraid to talk to those around her due to feeling like she is not good enough, or will be socially inept. Laura does not share that her fears come from a solid instance of someone telling her these things instead, these seem to be thoughts that are influencing her behaviors, fears, and actions.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) remains an effective method for helping people challenge their dysfunctional thoughts, encouraging them to use reason to approach their problem-solving, and replacing their negative beliefs with new, positive, and life-enhancing beliefs (Akerman, 2017). Using Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Laura can learn how to reshape her thinking in a positive way, allowing a possible enhancement in her relationships, in a personal and professional setting.
History of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
When Albert Ellis was a young man, he had a crippling fear of talking to woman. Ellis had the idea to force himself to get out every day and talk to a variety of woman near his apartment. He did this, because he felt like he was missing his opportunity to meet the person meant for him. At the end of his experiment, he had talked to over 100 women. Albert Ellis was turned down by all the woman he spoke to, but he then realized that his fear was not as strong. Ellis shared that he had overcome one of his biggest fears, while conducting this experiment. (Paulina, 2018).
By 1953, Albert Ellis had taken enough courses and spent time studying to officially label himself as a Rational Therapist (Berger, 2018). He started to advocate for a directive approach to psychotherapy. Using this approach, a therapist can help the client understand, and act from that understanding, that a person’s philosophy and way of thinking leads to their own pain and suffering (Berger, 2018). In 1955, Albert Ellis introduced Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). (Eva, 2005, pp. 178). Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, like many other forms of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, believes that most human emotions and behaviors are the result of what people, think, assume or believe to be true (Froggatt, 2005, pp. 1). Froggatt goes on to write, that Albert Ellis believed that a person’s biology may also affect their feelings and behaviors, therefore a human can only change so much (2005). In short, a person’s belief system is both a product of biological and inheritance and learning in one’s life. Keeping this in mind while recapping, Ellis concluded that REBT can rest on the belief that the way a person thinks influences emotions and behavior, and attempts to help clients change the way they think to reduce negative ideas and thoughts, therefore improving quality of life. He did not believe that a person’s childhood has a large impact on a person’s life like many other theorists in his time. Instead, the current beliefs and thoughts effect people. (Institute, 2014).
The ABCDE Model of Emotional Disturbance
When people do not obtain a goal, they may develop irrational beliefs about themselves. (Program, 2017). Ellis uses the example of someone being dead set on not getting a job, and are later not chosen for the position. A person with a healthy belief system may have decided that there are other opportunities and it was just not meant to be. Others, with irrational belief systems, may decide that they did not get the job, because the manger saw what a failure they are, and that they are not good at anything (Program, 2017). From situations like this, the ABCDE Model was created to explain the development and treatment of irrational beliefs such as the one above (Program, 2017). The ‘A’ in the model stands for the Activating event. This is the event that triggers a person to form an irrational belief towards themselves or the situation. Next, the ‘B’ stands for the irrational belief. This is a belief that is formed from the activating event, being turned down for the job. This belief is what a person may use to cope with the disappointment from the activating event. Following is ‘C’, this segment of the model is the emotional and behavior consequences of the irrational beliefs. All irrational beliefs have consequences on either a person’s behaviors, emotions, or mental state. A person may lose self-confidence or start frequently feeling sad. Letter ‘D”, gets into the therapy section of the model, this is the time when a person learns that they are holding an irrational belief that is causing them the problems that they are experiencing. A therapist can guide in developing arguments against this belief, such as “I am smart, and I will get another job”. There may be homework assignments such as a worksheet to develop beliefs that are impacting their lives in a negative way, followed by the person coming up with a new belief that will have a positive impact in their lives. Last, the letter ‘E’ is seen in some articles related to REBT, and not in others. ‘E’ comes into the model after a person has completed riding themselves of the irrational belief, coming up with ways to conquer such thoughts. Clients will notice new confidence, healthy thoughts, and a change in the way they think (Program, 2017).
Cognitive-Behavior Therapy Versus Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy
Literature suggests that therapists often do not understand the difference between Cognitive-Behavior Therapy(CBT) and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy(REBT) (Edelstein, 2017). REBT and CBT suggest that human emotions and behaviors are generated by ways of thinking, that lead a person changing their belief system. (Edelstein, 2017). Michael Edeistein wrote a journal about five (5) different between REBT and CBT that are important for therapists and clients to recognize. The first, REBT focuses on both the philosophic bases of emotional disturbance as well as the CBT idea of focusing on distorted cognitive distortions getting corrected (2017). For example, someone has decided to go on a second date, but feels that the first date did not go well because the person did not smile or talk enough, he immediately feels that she is not interested. REBT looks at the underlying reason of why a person may hold this belief. Second, REBT highlights the significance of secondary disturbances. In short, this is when someone does something such as worrying about how much they worry, causing even more anxiety. Third, REBT highlights unconditional self-acceptance. This means that REBT focuses on realizing that humans are imperfect and accepting yourself as is. CBT focuses more of boosting self-confidence and does not often identify the fact that people do have flaws. Fourth, REBT realizes that some negative emotions are healthy. Such as a person crying and grieving over a loss, or someone having anxiety for arriving late. These emotions teach and strengthen people if understood and processed in a healthy way. Last, REBT, unlike CBT, believes that no anger is appropriate. One must learn healthy assertiveness, problem solving, and other alternatives to anger (Edelstein, 2017).
Application of REBT with Laura
Laura shared that she is feeling chronic dissatisfaction with her life. She goes on the share that she is “experiencing anxiety in several different social situations”. (McBride & Atkinson, 2009). Laura realizes that this is excessive and feels she may have more friends if she were more open. Is assisting Laura, using the interview done with Albert Ellis and client Gloria, one can help Laura realize that her thoughts are influencing her behaviors. Ellis displays that getting to the root of why a client is feeling like they are, from their thoughts, are important in changing the negative belief patters. Once Laura begins to identify these unhealthy habits, and beliefs, encouraging Laura to spend time reaching out and talking to those around her may help her to get into a healthy habit of communication. Laura will need to remind herself that if the person does not seem interested in talking, Laura is not being rejected or a failure, the person may just be having a bad day or overwhelmed. She must realize that herself worth is not placed on the conversation. She is not bad, and she is not being rejected. From this, Laura will be able to formulate healthy thoughts.
Helpful Aspects for this Client
In conclusion, helping Laura identify that her thoughts are influencing her fear of socially interacting are causing here to retreat and avoid that social interact could help Laura become comfortable with speaking with confidence and without fear.
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