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Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy and Emotional Disturbance

Emotional disturbance is described in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy as irrational thoughts that occur in the mind that have erupted due to the mind’s invention.  These thoughts can be overtaken by learning new thoughts that can be taught through Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy.

Emotional disturbance, according to Ellis is characterized into three main categories.  First, a person may feel unworthy or less desirable if they do not achieve maximum success or positive acceptance from a significant other.  This can lead to major psychological issues such as depression or anxiety.  Or, a person will not appreciate anyone in their life unless that person treats them the way they expect to be treated.   The outcome of this category can be much Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapymore aggressive and could possibly include rage or abuse.  The last example of this category in which emotionally disturbed people can fall into is when a person feels as though their environment must be perfect or else it’s awful.  This can lead to addiction among other related psychological problems.

Albert Ellis is the major theorist in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy and he believes that humans are easily disturbed.  The belief is that everyone is in control of their own thoughts but must learn this fact.   This realization allows a people to gain control of their lives by eliminating negative thoughts, especially those that create disturbance.  By gaining control of their thoughts, ultimately the therapist can use rational emotive behavioral therapy and show the client real results.

A-B-C Theory of Personality

The A-B-C theory helps people understand how to change their negative thoughts and emotions.  This guide explains how to accomplish this through three stages.  First the A is the experience that is causing trouble, B is how the person interprets this experience through thoughts and feelings, and C is the emotional reaction.  The A-B-C approach is the cornerstone of rational emotive behavioral therapy.

Thoughts and feelings are linked together so it is the goal during Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy to help the client understand that the thoughts control the feelings.  So this is achieved by using the A-B-C theory.  Once the event or experience is identified (such as divorce or death of a loved one) then the client and patient will diagnose the thoughts about the events.  It is important during this stage for the client to really grasp the idea that the thoughts they are thinking about the event or experience are controlled by them.  Most people believe that the event or experience controls their thoughts.  For example, if a person fails a class in college they immediately have the choice to control their thoughts.  A good thought will lead to a good outcome and a bad thought will lead to a bad outcome.  If a person thinks to themselves that they are worthless and dumb it could result in dropping out of school altogether.  However, if a person thinks to themselves that it is an opportunity to master a subject they may not have been ready to master then they are more likely to retake the class and finish their degree.  One situation can have four different outcomes: positive, negative, neutral, or mixed.   This is the emotional outcome component of rational emotive behavioral therapy.

Disputing Irrational Beliefs

Disputing irrational beliefs is a technique that is used in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.  This process is broken down into three groups; behavioral, cognitive, or imaginable.   During cognitive disputing the counselor is very blunt and will cut to the chase so to speak.  They will ask the client directly why they are choosing to think the way that they do to help them understand that their thoughts are irrational.  They will then help the client learn how to choose to think differently.  When using behavioral disputation the therapist or counselor will ask the client to behave differently than what they do now.  They challenge the client by assigning homework or tasks and often the client feels as though it will be impossible.  Lastly, imaginable disputation consists of a rational emotive imagery or the emotional control card.  The rational emotive behavioral therapy imagery are processes in which the therapist will ask the client to imagine themselves in a situation and ask them role play their response; their typical response and then a changed response that is suggested by the therapist.  The client will then list their rational and irrational feelings under each category and the therapist and client will discuss.

However disputing irrational beliefs technique is used it will typically reach its maximum potential if all groups are practiced; cognitive, behavioral, and imaginable.  The idea behind this technique is that once a client learns how to think rationally in all categories then a new cognitive effect will take place.

Changing One’s Language

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy requires a client to change their thoughts.  In order for thoughts to change the client must learn how to change their language.  Basically, during therapy sessions the therapists teaches the client how not to use any verb to be.  For example, I am, She is, They are being, etc. for a description.  Actions should be separated from the individual and by using the verb to be the client will be unable to do so.  This theory involves helping the client learn how to differentiate their actions from themselves as a person.   This allows the client to change their thoughts any time they feel the need as opposed to being stuck on negative thoughts because they are associating their actions with who they are as a person.  Changing the clients thoughts and feelings about themselves is really what rational emotive behavioral therapy is all about.