Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), was
developed by Dr.Albert Ellis in 1955. It has since flourished and
spawned a variety of other therapies. REBT's
comprehensive approach works best for individuals desiring an active treatment for coping with
REBT is based on a few simple principles:
- You are responsible for your own emotions and
- Your harmful emotions and dysfunctional
behaviors are the product of your irrational thinking,
- You can learn more realistic views and, with
practice, make them a part of you,
- You'll experience a deeper acceptance of
yourself and greater satisfactions in life by developing a
REBT distinguishes clearly between practical problems and emotional
problems. Your flawed behavior, unfair treatment by others, and
undesirable situations, represent practical problems.
Regrettably, your human tendency is to upset yourself about these
practical problems, thereby unnecessarily creating a second order of
problems--emotional suffering. REBT addresses the latter by
Take responsibility for your distress. Only
you can upset yourself about events--the events themselves, no
matter how undesirable, can never upset you. Recognize that
neither another person, nor an adverse circumstance, can ever
disturb you--only you can. No one else can get into your gut and
churn it up. Others can cause you physical pain--by hitting you
over the head with a baseball bat, for example--or can block
your goals. But you create your own emotional suffering, or
self-defeating behavioral patterns, about what others do or say.
Identify your "musts." Once you
admit that you distort your own emotions and actions, then
determine precisely how. The culprit usually lies in one of the
three core "musts:"
- "Must" #1 (a demand on yourself):
"I MUST do well and get approval, or else I'm
worthless." This demand causes anxiety, depression, and
lack of assertiveness.
- "Must" #2 (a demand on others):
"You MUST treat me reasonably, considerately, and
lovingly, or else you're no good." This
"must" leads to resentment, hostility, and
- "Must" #3 (a demand on
situations): "Life MUST be fair, easy, and hassle-free,
or else it's awful." This thinking is associated with
hopelessness, procrastination, and addictions.
Ascertain what you're demanding of yourself,
of your significant others, or of your circumstances. Not until
you have discovered the "must" can you then go on
effectively to reduce your distress.
Dispute your "musts." The only way
you can ever remain disturbed about adversity is by vigorously
and persistently agreeing with one of these three
"musts." Thus, once you've bared them, then
relentlessly confront and question your demands.
Begin by asking yourself: "What's the
evidence for my `must?' " "How is it true?"
"Where's it etched in stone?" And then by seeing:
"There's no evidence." "My `must' is
entirely false." "It's not carved indelibly
anywhere." Make your view "must"-free, and then
your emotions will heal.
- Reinforce your preferences. Conclude,
- Preference #1: "I strongly PREFER to
do well and get approval, but even if I fail, I will accept
- Preference #2: "I strongly PREFER that
you treat me reasonably, kindly, and lovingly, but since I
don't run the universe, and it's a part of your human nature
to err, I, then, cannot control you,"
- Preference #3: "I strongly PREFER that
life be fair, easy, and hassle-free, and it's very
frustrating that it isn't, but I can bear frustration and
still considerably enjoy life."
Assuming that you take the above suggestions to
heart and thereby greatly reduce your anxiety, hostility,
depression, and addictions, what remains? Will you exist robot-like,
devoid of human feeling and motivation? Hardly! Without your
turmoil, you'll more easily experience love, involvement, and joy.
And without your addictions, you'll be freer to engage in the
gratifying experiences of spontaneity, commitment, and
As you can see, REBT will appeal to you if you
relish quickly taking control of your own life, rather than
remaining dependent upon a therapist for years. By giving you tools
for identifying and overcoming the true source of your difficulties,
it will prepare you to act in many ways as your own therapist. And
by helping you to reinforce realistic, self-benefitting beliefs, it
will enable you to eliminate present emotional and behavioral
problems, and to avoid future ones.