What Is Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy?

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) is a kind of psychotherapy that is related to cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy helps you learn more positive, productive ways to react to certain stresses, traumatic events and experiences that occur or have occurred in your life.

REBT is thought of as a life philosophy that’s based on the idea that when you become distressed during a certain stressful event, it’s not the event that’s upsetting you, it’s your ingrained beliefs that cause you to react in certain emotional ways. Perhaps you become depressed, anxious or exceedingly angry.

In essence, successful REBT reshapes your core beliefs that are harming the way you react to life situations.

Your deep-rooted thoughts and beliefs can cause you to respond to certain situations or events in some unhealthy emotional or behavioral ways. Your way of thinking about these experiences are often the reason for your emotional response rather than the event itself.

REBT helps you look more closely at the way you think about things, changes your patterns of thinking that are negatively affecting your life, and thereby helps you better manage the way you feel when certain situations crop up.

The psychologist Albert Ellis founded Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy in the 1950s when he started questioning traditional psychoanalytic methods that were first employed by Sigmund Freud. Rather than helping his patients feel for a short time better by talking about their issues, Dr. Ellis wanted to get to the root of the problem.

Dr. Ellis advanced the importance of self-acceptance, because every human is a unique individual. He didn’t believe that you should give yourself a global rating or be influenced by what others think of you.

He believed that patients’ deep-seated ways of thinking and belief systems were causing the emotional turmoil they felt. By 1956, other therapists were adopting his theories with great success. Eventually, REBT also led to the development of cognitive-behavioral therapy methods.

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How Does Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy helps you uncover the ways in which you view the world. Some of your inner thoughts and emotions may actually be irrational and not in line with your other beliefs and what you know to be true about life.

These harmful, negative beliefs are often not even known to you, as they exist in your subconscious. Yet they can evoke much distress and lead to negative feelings about yourself.

The ABC Model in REBT is made up of:

A: ACTION – The Activating Event: This is the triggering situation that happens
B: BELIEF – Here are your beliefs about the event that occurred
C: CONSEQUENCE – Your emotional response to the event is the consequence

When developing REBT, Dr. Ellis drew up his ABC Model to explain what happens when your thoughts and beliefs determine how you react or respond to events.

This therapeutic modality targets three basic types of unrealistic, irrational expectations or beliefs that a person might have:

1. I have to be great at what I do, be lovable and always a winner. If not, then I’m worthless.
2. If other people don’t treat me well, they’re not good people.
3. I have to get what I want, or the results will be devastating.

Perhaps you get stressed out when you have to meet new people, say at a party. You might become nervous, thinking you’ll be judged or seen in a bad light, even though you know that most people are understanding and warm hearted.

In another example, maybe the activating event is the loss of a close friend who rejects you. You would need to identify your emotional response to this loss. Your therapist would help you realize that your reaction to rejection can vary in its intensity based on your thoughts or beliefs. If you think the world is ending because you’ve lost a friend, this thought is much more intense than the belief that friends can come and go, even if dealing with it is difficult.

When you are involved in REBT sessions, your therapist will work with you to:

  • Identify these irrational thoughts that have no real substance
  • Uncover your beliefs that are actually in conflict with one another
  • Target and identify the thoughts that are making you feel bad when you are going through a stressful situation
  • Help you change your patterns of thinking
  • Help you translate how you interpret events in a healthier way

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy and Addiction Treatment

REBT can be very helpful when used in integrated addiction treatment and rehab therapy. The REBT techniques are often used together with other therapies, such as different types of cognitive-behavioral therapy, including motivational interviewing and dialectical behavioral therapy.

Rehab is most successful when treatment is tailored to a patient’s individual needs, because addiction is a very individual disease. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that about 40-60% of people who attain sobriety will experience a relapse, although they certainly may recover again.

Utilizing REBT with your therapist can help to disrupt your irrational thoughts, which can be vital to maintaining your sobriety in recovery.

Once you achieve sobriety and are in recovery, you may experience an emotional event, such as a romantic breakup. The ways in which you learn to identify, process and rethink such an event through Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy can mean the difference between remaining sober and experiencing a substance use relapse.

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Benefits of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

REBT takes an action-directed approach to psychotherapy that helps you better manage your emotions, thoughts, beliefs and behaviors.

It’s an effective treatment for changing behavior and reducing negative thoughts that are essentially irrational.

REBT helps you deal better with and reduce feelings of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Distress

Some other benefits of Rational Emotive Therapy include:

  • Better overall health
  • Better quality of life
  • Improved performance at school or work
  • Improved social skills
  • Improved relationships
  • Self-acceptance
  • Development of resilience

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy Techniques

Therapists who use Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy teach their patients specific techniques to help them better manage the beliefs that are causing them emotional distress.

By using these techniques, patients can learn to analyze the way they’re thinking, the reactions they’re having to situations and discover which beliefs are leading to the distressful emotions.

The techniques involve a process that must be gone through:

Identify the Irrational Belief:

  • Through talk therapy, an REBT therapist helps you uncover the beliefs you hold that are not consistent with what’s really happening or with your other beliefs.

Challenge Those Beliefs:

  • A therapist will teach you how to question whether your deep-seated beliefs are reasonable or justifiable.

Insight and Analysis:

  • You’ll learn to pick out the thoughts you have that lead to negative emotions. You’ll then understand how to figure out if those thoughts are valid.

Think Differently:

  • When you’ve identified an irrational thought or belief that’s causing you emotional distress, you can then learn to think differently. These different thoughts will, over time, replace the negative instincts with more rational, healthy responses

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy at Resurgence Behavioral Health

Our highly trained therapists at Resurgence Behavioral Health take a holistic approach to addiction treatment, considering your physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual needs as an individual suffering from substance use disorder. We also diagnose and treat co-occurring mental health disorders that often are at the root of the disease of addiction.

We utilize REBT to help individuals who may unconsciously harbor negative, harmful beliefs and thoughts that contribute to the ways they react to certain life experiences. Our therapists instruct our clients on the ABC Model way of applying REBT to their daily life.

Groups such as SMART Recovery often recommend the use of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy in order to replace negative thoughts and behaviors with more positive, healthy ways of coping with what life throws at you. By addressing and uncovering the issues and inner thoughts that often lead someone to abuse drugs or alcohol, REBT can address your addictive behaviors and any co-occurring mental health disorders during your rehab treatment.

The clinical team at Resurgence Behavioral Health is made up of medical professionals, credentialed addiction specialists, licensed therapists and addiction counselors. We are highly experienced in the various types of behavioral therapies we offer, including REBT when used in conjunction with our other successful therapeutic modalities.

Our treatment team will design an individualized treatment plan for you, which may or not include REBT, depending on your specific psychological assessment and needs. You can be assured that your custom treatment program will be geared toward your sustained recovery from substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health conditions you may also need assistance with.

Call us today to get your life back on track. We’re here to help.

Addiction Treatment that
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Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.