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Albert Ellis Rational Emotive Therapy

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The original version of the therapeutic paradigm developed by Albert Ellis, Rational Emotive Therapy (RET), was renamed to Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) in 1992. The change marked the incorporation of a greater focus on patient behaviors as well as techniques from behavioral therapy. In the original RET framework, a psychologist functioned as an active participant in a patient’s self-understanding, guiding interpretation much more directly than a psychoanalyst. An even more pronounced difference between RET and traditional Freudian psychoanalysis was that the therapist actively challenged and argued with the patient in an attempt to dispel their irrational beliefs. The inclusion of behavior-orientation in REBT had therapists engage in further scrutiny of patient habits and behaviors.

Behavioral Therapy and Psychology

Albert Ellis Rational Emotive Therapy

The shift to REBT also saw therapists guiding patients in behavioral exercises. An example taken from behavioral therapy would be that a patient suffering from an irrational fear of spiders would practice exercises such as looking at pictures of spiders, touching the pictures, even handling a toy spider. Rational emotive behavioral therapy adds the cognitive element. The psychologist confronts the patient’s underlying beliefs, perhaps that a spider will do the patient grave harm, using logical argumentation to prove that the belief is irrational. For Albert Ellis, Rational Emotive Therapy was a step forward in making psychology a more scientific discipline.

Rational Emotive Therapy

Individuals who accept rigid beliefs draw irrational conclusions. They may take one of four forms.

  1. Awfulizing: in other words, the client expresses the notion that the situation is worse than it actually is.
  2. I-can’t-stand-it-itis: the client expresses the belief that he or she cannot tolerate the situation.
  3. Damnation: the client is excessively critical of self, others, and current life conditions.
  4. Always-and-never thinking: the client insists on  absolutes.

When the beliefs are flexible, they are considered to be
rational. Thus, conclusions here can take the following form:

  1. Moderate evaluations of badness: the client perceives that a situation is bad but not terrible when he or she is confronted with a negative activating event. 
  2. Statements of toleration: the client will express that he or she is able to tolerate a situation.
  3. Acceptance of fallibility: the client can accept human error in self and others. Additionally, the client can accept the complexity of life conditions.
  4. Flexible thinking with regard to events: the client will avoid thinking in absolutes.

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