What is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and how is it different to CBT?

Jason Brien.

     Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a form of psychotherapy developed by psychologist Albert Ellis in the 1950s. It is based on the belief that our thoughts, beliefs, and interpretations of events significantly influence our emotions and behaviors. REBT focuses on identifying and challenging irrational beliefs and replacing them with rational and adaptive thoughts, leading to healthier emotional responses and more functional behaviors.

Here are some key aspects of REBT:

1. ABC Model: REBT utilizes the ABC model, which stands for Activating event, Beliefs, and Consequences. It suggests that it is not the event itself (A) that directly causes emotional and behavioral consequences (C), but rather our beliefs (B) about the event. By identifying and challenging irrational beliefs, individuals can change their emotional and behavioral responses.

2. Irrational Beliefs: REBT identifies several common irrational beliefs that contribute to emotional distress, such as demandingness (the belief that things must go our way), catastrophizing (exaggerating the negative consequences of events), and low frustration tolerance (the belief that we cannot handle discomfort or frustration). REBT aims to help individuals recognize and dispute these irrational beliefs.

3. Disputing Irrational Beliefs: REBT encourages individuals to actively challenge and dispute their irrational beliefs by providing evidence and alternative perspectives. This process involves questioning the logical consistency, empirical evidence, and practicality of these beliefs. By doing so, individuals can develop rational beliefs that are more helpful and realistic.

4. Homework and Practice: REBT often involves assigning homework exercises to help individuals practice identifying and disputing irrational beliefs in their daily lives. These exercises may include journaling, role-playing, or engaging in behavioral experiments to test the validity of irrational beliefs.

Now, let's explore the differences between REBT and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

1. Focus:

While both REBT and CBT focus on the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, REBT places a particular emphasis on identifying and challenging irrational beliefs. CBT, on the other hand, tends to focus more broadly on identifying and modifying negative or maladaptive thoughts and behaviors.

2. Philosophical Underpinnings:

REBT incorporates philosophical elements, emphasizing the role of acceptance, tolerance, and unconditional self-acceptance. It promotes the idea that individuals can choose their responses to events and adopt a more rational and compassionate perspective. CBT, on the other hand, is more rooted in behavioral and cognitive theories without as much emphasis on philosophical principles.

3. Emotional Primacy:

REBT places a strong emphasis on addressing and accepting a wide range of emotions, including negative emotions. It aims to help individuals develop emotional resilience and healthy coping strategies. CBT, while also addressing emotions, may focus more on modifying cognitive distortions and behavioral patterns.

It's worth noting that while there are differences between REBT and CBT, they also share many common principles and techniques. Both therapies have been extensively researched and shown to be effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions. Ultimately, the choice between REBT and CBT may depend on the individual's preferences, needs, and the expertise of the therapist.