Cognitive Therapy and Rational
Emotive Behavior Therapy
The power of believing
Theory of Personality
(REBT terminology in parentheses)
 Cognitive states are the fundamental component of
 Emotions and behaviors are based on schemas
 Schemas are cognitive perceptions, interpretations,
and assumptions that individuals use to help organize
and make sense of their experience
Schemas can either be functional or dysfunctional (irrational) and can
compete with each other
Dysfunctional schemas predispose people to psychological distress.
The impact of our thoughts
Nature of Maladjustment
 Maladjustment (i.e., maladaptive, self-defeating behaviors) stems
from irrational beliefs and distorted cognitions (next 2 slides).
 Maladaptive cognitions come from:
 Early (and earlier!) experiences
 Selective attention
 Misperception
 Maladaptive focusing
 Repertory deficiencies
 Cognitive Therapy and REBT differ in their emphasis on specific
cognitive content
REBT: “musts”, “shoulds”, and other imperatives underlie all disorders.
CBT: Cognitive profiles of depression, anxiety, and panic are different
and require different techniques
 Adaptive behaviors come from self-enhancing thoughts.
 Clients can be taught to shift from maladaptive (irrational) thoughts
to self-enhancing thoughts.
12 Irrational Ideas That Cause and
Sustain Neurosis (1-6)
1. I need love/approval from those
significant to me and must avoid
disapproval from any source.
1. Love/approval are nice but unnecessary
2. To be worthwhile as a person I must
succeed at everything and make no
2. Unfailing success and competence is
unrealistic and I accept myself as a person,
separate from my performance
3. People should always do the right
thing. When they behave obnoxiously,
unfairly or selfishly, they must be
blamed and punished.
3. People unfortunately sometimes do bad
things, but getting upset won't change that
4. Things must be the way I want them
to be - otherwise life will be intolerable.
4. Things won’t always be the way I want.
It's disappointing, but there is no need to
5. My unhappiness is caused by things
outside my control - so there is little I
can do to feel better.
5. Many external factors are outside my
control, but it is my thoughts which cause
my feelings
6. I must worry about things that could
be dangerous, unpleasant or scary otherwise they might happen.
6. Worrying about things that might go
wrong won't stop them happening. It will,
though, ensure I get upset right now!
12 Irrational Ideas That Cause and
Sustain Neurosis (7-12)
7. I can be happier by avoiding life's difficulties, unpleasantries, and
8. Everyone needs to depend on someone stronger than themselves.
9. Events in my past are the cause of my problems - and they continue to
influence my feelings and behaviors now.
10. I should become upset when other people have problems and feel unhappy
when they're sad.
11. I should not have to feel discomfort and pain - I can't stand them and must
avoid them at all costs.
12. Every problem should have an ideal solution, and it is intolerable when one
can't be found.
Cognitive Distortions
 Arbitrary inference: Drawing a conclusion without supporting
evidence or despite contradictory evidence (I’m a terrible mother)
 Selective Abstraction: Drawing conclusion based on detail taken
out of context (Jealous when girlfriend stands close to another man)
 Overgeneralization: Drawing a general conclusion based on one or
a few isolated incidents (All men are jerks)
 Magnification/Minimization: Seeing something as much more or
much less significant than it really is
 Personalization: Attributing external events to self without evidence
of supporting connection
 Dichotomous thinking: Categorizing experiences into one of two
extremes (success or failure)
The case of Alan
Alan is a young man who had always tended to doubt himself. Alan imagined
that other people did not like him and that they were only friendly because
they pitied him. One day, a friend passed him in the street without returning
his greeting - to which Alan reacted negatively. Here is the event, Alan’s
beliefs, and his reaction, put into the ABC format
A. Antecedent: Friend passed me in the street without speaking to me.
B. Beliefs about A.:
1. He’s ignoring me. He doesn’t like me.
2. I could end up without friends for ever.
3. That would be terrible.
4. For me to be happy and feel worthwhile, people must like me.
5. I’m unacceptable as a friend - so I must be worthless as a person.
C. Consequence:
Feelings: worthless, depressed.
Behaviors: begins (continues) to avoid other people.
A different person…
A. Antecedent: Friend passed me in the street without speaking to me.
B. Beliefs about A.:
1. He didn’t ignore me deliberately. He may not have seen me.
2. He might have had something on his mind.
3. I’d like to help if I can.
C. Consequence
Feelings: Concerned.
Behaviors: Goes to visit friend to see how he is.
Strategies for Helping Clients
 Collaborative empiricism, Socratic dialogue, and guided
discovery (REBT: confrontation)
 Cognitive Modeling: The therapist models with self-talk
cognitions that the client will incorporate.
 Covert Modeling: A client imagines engaging in the desired
behaviors he or she wants to learn or adopt.
 Thought Stopping: Interruption of unwanted thoughts when they
occur by shouting “stop” whenever the unwanted thought pops
into consciousness.
 Cognitive Restructuring: Replacement of irrational, maladaptive
thoughts with rational and adaptive ones.
 Stress Inoculation: Teaching clients both cognitive and physical
skills for coping with future stressful and distressing situations.
Obstacles to change
Personal change means giving up some old habits of
thinking and behaving and 'safe’ ways of approaching
life. Change involves risk, which can increase stress
and emotional pain - temporarily. In other words, people
may well feel worse before they feel better.
“I can’t stand it”
“Change should happen naturally; I shouldn’t have to work at it”
“There is a faster/easier way to change”
“Choosing how I feel makes me a phony”
“Choosing how I feel will make me cold and unemotional
Disadvantages of Cognitive Therapy
 Harshly judged by feminists and multiculturalists
because it implicitly mirrors masculine and EuroAmerican worldviews and does not adequately take
culture into consideration.
 The therapist needs to not only understand cognitive
techniques but also have a vast understanding of
behavioral and learning theories.
 The therapist needs to have strong discipline and
there is less tolerance for error.