Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) / Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) grows out of and actively utilizes strong philosophical underpinnings. In fact a large aspect of RET (and indeed CBT) can be clearly understood in a quote that Ellis himself selected from a 1st century stoic philosopher Epictetus: “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them”.

Rational Emotive Therapy thus uses the art of logical thought in order to aid clients in actively noticing and challenging not just superficial thoughts but the beliefs that underly these. By using inductive and deductive logic people are able to successfully challenge their dysfunctional thoughts and gain access to the often irrational beliefs that underly these. Inductive logic is the art of knowing, or the ability to follow the facts and use them to alter irrational beliefs. Deductive logic is the art of thinking, or the ability to trace superficial thoughts or hypotheses to their logical conclusions. Without this factual knowledge (eg “I failed that exam”) can quickly influence and further solidify underlying irrational beliefs (“Therefore I clearly am a failure”).

Some of the Core Irrational beliefs emphasised in the Rational Emotive Therapy Model (RET or REBT) include the following:

  • Demandingness or Absolutism – inflexible, extreme beliefs often using words like “should”, “must”, “have to”, “need to”, “must not” or “cannot”.
  • Demand for Success or Achievement
  • Demand for Love and Approval from a large amount of people, most of the time
  • Demand for Comfort
  • Awfulization – seeing events in terms of the most catastrophic possible outcome
  • Low Frustration Tolerance – belief that frustration, anxiety etcetera must not exist and cannot be tolerated to any real degree
  • Global-Rating – rating oneself or others in terms of one universal scale and generally on one end of a dichotomy (e.g. words as useless, idiot, loser, worthless, or stupid).

Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) flows directly out of RET, merely including / recognizing the behavioural aspects of the model. Over time Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy has become more manualised and easily accessible to people, and one of the core tenants here is the ABC model of emotional disturbance. The REBT ABCDE model merely adds on to the ABC model by also including the rational steps necessary to dispute and alter the beliefs and thus also emotions and behaviours.

The Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) ABCDE Model
AActivating Event is the initial factual event that transpires (akin to the CBT Situation).
B – Irrational Belief about the Activating event
C – Emotional and behavioural Consequences from Irrational Belief.
D – “Dispution of the Irrational Beliefs.
E – New Effect or the new, more effective emotions and behaviours that result from more reasonable thinking about the original event.


How do I get help for myself or my loved one?

The first step in getting help is finding out whether you have a problem. A trained clinical psychologist can effectively perform a professional assessment, which will identify whether you have any problem areas, and will recommend the treatment most appropriate for you if necessary.

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