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Know More About Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

We employ several types of therapy at the Mental Health Center of Tacoma, Washington. One of our most used techniques is Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy. Below is some information about REBT.

  1. What is Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy?

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) was created by Albert Ellis and has been used in psychological treatment since the 1950s. The unique viewpoint of REBT is that the actual events of our lives do not create our emotions, but rather our beliefs are what cause us to experience negative emotions like depression, anxiety, and anger. REBT seeks to alleviate emotional pain by recognizing and changing irrational beliefs.

  1. The ABCs of REBT

The ABC model of REBT is used to illustrate Ellis’s theory that our beliefs are what cause emotional distress and disturbance, rather than events.

A: Activating event – whatever occurs in the environment that you are responding to

B: Beliefs – the thoughts and beliefs you have about the event

C: Consequence – your emotional response to your beliefs

Here is an example of the model in action:

A: Activating event – you accidentally spill a drink on your first date

B: Beliefs – you think, “I’m so clumsy, this is so embarrassing, I won’t recover from this and they will never want to go out with me again!”

C: Consequences – you feel anxious and insecure

If you can recognize and change your belief, the consequence could be different. For example:

A: Activating event – you accidentally spill a drink on your first date

B: Beliefs – you think, “Wow, I must really like the person if they make me this nervous!” or even, “What a funny story this could be to tell my friends later, or maybe to one day tell our kids if this works out!”

C: Consequences – you are calm and excited about the date

  1. The Three Basic Musts

Albert Ellis claimed that all the negative beliefs that cause emotional distress are variations of three main beliefs, called the “three basic musts.” The three basic must are: 1. I must do well and have the approval of others 2. Others must treat me the way I want to be treated, otherwise, they are bad and must be punished 3. I must get what I want and when I want it.

REBT helps us to identify how our negative beliefs fit into these molds, and how they create negative consequences within ourselves. REBT also helps us to challenge and change these beliefs, so that we can have a more positive emotional reaction and outcome.