What Is REBT?

What Is REBT?

Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is a form of psychotherapy through which individuals are taught to change their perception and beliefs about the happenings in life that cause them pain or distress. Based on the teachings of ancient Stoics, and in harmony with many of the central, non-religious, tenets of Buddhism, REBT posits that it is not primarily the negative circumstances a person faces that causes her pain, but her perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs about those circumstances. While in many ways the principles of REBT could be considered a generalized way of life, when it comes to mental health issues, including addiction, the implications are fairly profound. The tenets of REBT have helped many people treat the following disorders:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Personality disorders

In fact, this particular form of therapy is one of the most well studied psychotherapeutic approaches in the modern psychological world. Years after the psychologist Albert Ellis formalized the definition of REBT in the mid 1950s, the revolutionary therapeutic approach known as Cognitive Behavior Treatment (CBT) incorporated many of its principles. Modern REBT is considered to be a form of CBT that focuses on giving clients the necessary tools to think differently about the underlying beliefs and emotions that drive their destructive behavior. By addressing those unhelpful thoughts and attitudes it becomes much easier to deal with surface issues like marijuana or other substance abuse. People can choose to respond to circumstances in either healthy or unhealthy ways. The goal of REBT is to equip people to accept their circumstances and to react to the discomfort or distress in their lives in ways that bring healing and wellness.

The ABCs of REBT

The idea that irrational beliefs cause negative feelings that lead to destructive behaviors can be understood more clearly through what is referred to as the “ABCs of REBT.” This formula suggests the following:

  • An Activating experience (any adversity) sparks the process. This could be a neutral or coincidental event, or could be caused by a poor choice made by the individual.
  • The individual cultivates an irrational and unhelpful Belief about that experience. These beliefs may be explicit or subconscious.
  • The irrational belief about the activating experience leads to inevitable C

This model demonstrates that it is not really the activating experience that causes consequences, but the individual’s beliefs about that experience. Consequences can also become additional negative experiences, forming a vicious cycle.

This framework then suggests that people must become more aware of the true nature of the circumstances they face and the subconscious and subtle beliefs that shape their response to those events if they are to ever be able to eliminate the consequences they cause.

The Three “Musts” of REBT

Ellis suggested, and the teaching of REBT continues to reinforce, that psychological dysfunction is directly connected to these irrational thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. In essence, these beliefs both cause and are caused by absolutist, inflexible, and fatalistic dictates. Instead of being empowered to choose one response or another, the individual is locked into a certain response due to learned attitudes and prejudices, many of which function on a far deeper level than rational thought or will. Ellis taught that most of these disturbed thoughts could be tied to one of the following three “musts”:

  • I must perform perfectly in life or I am a bad person unworthy of happiness (leads to feelings of depression, anxiety, despair)
  • Others must treat me with utmost respect and deference or else they are bad people unworthy of happiness (leads to feelings of vengeance, anger, rage, hatred)
  • I must be comfortable and at peace at all times or life will become completely miserable and intolerable (leads to feelings of intolerance, depression, avoidance, frustration)

Further, REBT suggests that these “musts” are exacerbated by tendencies to magnify negative experiences, to generalize, to demonize others, and to obsess over the absolute worst details of any event or person.

REBT’s Helpful Insights

Through intensive teaching and guidance, REBT therapists endeavor to impart the following insights to the individuals they treat:

  • Your pain is at least partially the result of your rigid and irrational beliefs
  • Without intervention you will tend to cling to your irrational beliefs
  • Overcoming and correcting your faulty beliefs is hard work

This type of growth requires the following three types of acceptance:

  • You must learn to accept yourself unconditionally
  • You must learn to accept others for who they are
  • You must learn to accept everything that comes your way; the ups and the downs

Through counseling sessions and individual homework assignments the therapist helps the client to cultivate these skills and gives them exercises and strategies to hone them.

REBT Helpline

The implications of this line of thinking are powerful for individuals suffering from life-controlling psychological issues. Many of the most effective drug and alcohol treatment programs, for instance, use REBT as a critical component of the rehab process. If you are struggling with marijuana addiction and would like more information about the integration of REBT principles into the recovery process please call our toll-free helpline right now. Our staff members are available seven days a week and 24 hours a day, with free, confidential answers and access to the best REBT tools available. And if REBT is not the right approach for you we can help you find the one that is. Our purpose is to do whatever it takes to get you the tools you need to gain control over your life. Call now.