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Rational Emotive Behavioural Theory provides an introduction to the theory ,
history, research and practice of this influential approach. It was created in the
1950s by the coauthor, Albert Ellis. Rational emotive behaviour theory was the
pioneering cognitive behavioural theory. It’s an approach that helps you identify
irrational beliefs and negative thought patterns that may lead to emotional or
behavioural issues.
Every therapist uses at least a theory which is backed by a philosophy and every
philosophy is backed by beliefs and values of the originator or propounder and
whose beliefs and values emanates from his or her views about the nature of
human. Behavioural Cognitive therapists of recent times held that the process
for Psychoanalysis was too long and inefficient. They devised counselling
methods that are very brief.
This work shall cover areas as follows
1. Brief Profile of the Propounder and Historical Background of the REBT
2. Philosophy and Basic Concepts (Assumptions)
3. Theory of Personality
4. Theoretical Explanation of Maladjustment (Malfunctioning)
5. Implications for Counselling
6. Evaluation of the Theory
i. Advantages, Limitations iii general
ii. Relevance of the theory in the Ghanaian context
7. References
Albert Ellis was born on September 17, 1913 in Pittsburgh, USA. He was the
eldest of three children. In his early years, he was sick most of the time.
However, he could not get the attention and care from his parents. But this did
not bother him a lot, because he was positive in his mind. Ellis seemed to have
had a propensity of handling difficult times in a logical and rational manner,
perhaps due to the parents lack of care, he had a pretty miserable childhood. He
was very adventurous indeed, after attaining a degree in business, he spent a
few years in the field and saw himself as a political and economics
revolutionary, later he became disillusioned with the profession and changed to
become a writer, often writing on sexuality. He soon gained notoriety from that
too and set was not satisfied. In 1942 he decided to pursue a Masters and PhD in
Clinical Psychology in Columbia University. He then begun practising in family
and sex therapy, marriage therapy etc using psychoanalysis method.
Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) was created and developed by the
American psychotherapist and psychologist Albert Ellis, who was inspired by
many of the teachings of Asian, Greek, Roman and modern philosophers. REBT
is the first form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and was first
expounded by Ellis in the mid-1950s; development continued until his death in
2007. Ellis became synonymous with the highly influential therapy. Psychology
Today noted, "No individual, not even Freud himself€”has had a greater impact
on modern psychotherapy." REBT is both a psychotherapeutic system of theory
and practices and a school of thought established by Ellis. He first presented his
ideas at a conference of the American Psychological Association in 1956 then
published a seminal article in 1957 entitled "Rational psychotherapy and
individual psychology", in which he set the foundation for what he was calling
rational therapy (RT) and carefully responded to questions from Rudolf
Dreikurs and others about the similarities and differences with Alfred Adler's
Individual psychology. This was around a decade before psychiatrist Aaron
Beck first set forth his "cognitive therapy", after Ellis had contacted him in the
mid 1960s. Ellis' own approach was renamed Rational Emotive Therapy in
1959, then the current term in 1992. Precursors of certain fundamental aspects
of rational emotive behaviour therapy have been identified in ancient
philosophical traditions, particularly to Stoicists. Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus,
Zeno of Citium, Chrysippus, Panaetius of Rhodes, Cicero, and Seneca, and
early Asian philosophers Confucius and Gautama Buddha. In his first major
book on rational therapy, Ellis wrote that the central principle of his approach,
that people are rarely emotionally affected by external events but rather by their
thinking about such events, "was originally discovered and stated by the ancient
Stoic philosophers". Ellis illustrates this with a quote from the Enchiridion of
Epictetus: "Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of
them." Ellis noted that Shakespeare expressed a similar thought in Hamlet:
"There's nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Ellis also acknowledges
early 20th century therapists, particularly Paul Charles Dubois, though he only
read his work several years after developing his therapy.
A fundamental premise of REBT is that humans do not get emotionally
disturbed by unfortunate circumstances, but by how they construct their views
of these circumstances through their language, evaluative beliefs, meanings and
philosophies about the world, themselves and others. This concept has been
attributed as far back as the Roman philosopher Epictetus, who is often cited as
utilizing similar ideas in antiquity.
In REBT, clients usually learn and begin to apply this premise by learning the
A-B-C-D-E-F model of psychological disturbance and change. The following
letters represent the following meanings in this model:
A – The adversity
B – The developed belief in the person of the Adversity
C – The consequences of that person's Beliefs i.e., B
D – The person's disputes of A, B, and C. In latter thought
E – The effective new philosophy or belief that develops in that person through
the occurrence of D in their minds of A and B
F – The developed feelings of one's self either at point and after point C or at
point after point E.
The A-B-C model states that it is not an A, adversity (or activating event) that
cause disturbed and dysfunctional emotional and behavioural Cs, consequences,
but also what people B, irrationally believe about the A, adversity. A, adversity
can be an external situation, or a thought, a feeling or other kind of internal
event, and it can refer to an event in the past, present, or future.
The Bs, irrational beliefs that are most important in the A-B-C model are
explicit and implicit philosophical meanings and assumptions about events,
personal desires, and preferences. The Bs, beliefs that are most significant are
highly evaluative and consist of interrelated and integrated cognitive, emotional
and behavioural aspects and dimensions. According to REBT, if a person's
evaluative B, belief about the A, activating event is rigid, absolutistic, fictional
and dysfunctional, the C, the emotional and behavioural consequence, is likely
to be self-defeating and destructive. Alternatively, if a person's belief is
preferential, flexible and constructive, the C, the emotional and behavioural
consequence is likely to be self-helping and constructive.
Through REBT, by understanding the role of their mediating, evaluative and
philosophically based illogical, unrealistic and self-defeating meanings,
interpretations and assumptions in disturbance, individuals can learn to identify
them, then go to D, disputing and questioning the evidence for them. At E,
effective new philosophy, they can recognize and reinforce the notion no
evidence exists for any psychopathological must, ought or should and
distinguish them from healthy constructs, and subscribe to more constructive
and self-helping philosophies. This new reasonable perspective leads to F, new
feelings and behaviours appropriate to the A they are addressing in the exercise.
REBT is based on the assumption that:
(i) Human beings are born with a potential for both rational and irrational
thinking which influences their behaviour (Rationality)
A. Therefore, believing that we are fallible human beings who have the
potential rational and irrational thinking is the basis for the REBT. Rational
thinking, say REBT theorists, leads to health ways of living and results in
people who show unconditional acceptance of self, of others and of the was
things are.
B. Self–acceptance, says Ellis, is different from self–esteem because
self–esteem means “When I do well and you love me, then am a good person
but when I do poorly and you don’t like me, back to shit I“ (Ellis and MacLaren
as cited in Neukrug, 2011. p. 289)
(ii) Human beings also think in absolute rather than relative terms (humanism).
(iii) Concept of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain (Hedonism).
1. Introduction and Historical Background
2. Philosophy and Basic Concepts (Assumptions)
3. Theory of Personality
4. Theoretical Explanation of Maladjustment (Malfunctioning)
5. Implications for Counselling
6. Evaluation of the Theory
i. Advantages, Limitations iii general
ii. Relevance of the theory in the Ghanaian context
7. References