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Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

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Rational emotive behavior therapy was first pioneered in the 1950s by Albert Ellis and is premised on the belief that it is not situations and circumstances in our lives that cause us to experience emotional reactions – sadness, anger, anxiety, joy, etc. – but rather the beliefs we hold that cause us to experience these emotions. Rational Emotive Behavior TherapyTherefore if a certain event occurs to us, we may feel differently depending on how we feel about that event and the circumstances that surround it.

The ABC format demonstrates this: A is when something happens, B is your belief about the situation, and C is your response. Depending on B, C will change; contrary to popular belief, it is really B which is the determinant of C, not A. Ellis also described 3 basic musts, irrational beliefs that most people hold about what the world “must” offer them, but which often don’t work out that way. He felt that helping people change their beliefs about these musts would go a long way toward promoting their happiness.

Since it is irrational thinking that often determines how we feel in a given situation (C), and since people largely hold the same irrational beliefs, working to reduce the tendency for those beliefs to take over will increase happiness, and is therefore therapeutic. Eventually individuals successfully treated can begin to accept themselves and life as it is, rather than as they’d irrationally like it to be.

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