Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
Changing the Way We Think to Change the Way We Feel
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What Is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?
Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) was created by Albert Ellis in the 1950’s and is a short-term form of psychotherapy and a philosophy of living. This type of therapy is based on the idea that certain events taking place in our lives are not what causes us to become angry, depressed, or anxious. Rather, it is the beliefs we hold that cause us to feel this way.
The primary goals of REBT are to identify self-defeating beliefs, change the rationality of those beliefs, and then replace them with healthier thoughts and beliefs.
Dr. Ellis believed that people’s beliefs were a direct cause of their emotional and behavioral responses to life events, and he created the ABC format to illustrate the idea.
- You have an activating experience (something happens).
- You develop a belief about the situation.
- You have an emotional reaction to the belief and are therefore faced with consequences.
Although every person expresses themselves differently in the face of life events, REBT proposes that the beliefs that cause us to become angry, depressed, or anxious (or any other emotion) are all based on three common irrational beliefs. These are:
- “I must do well and win the approval of others for my performances or else I am no good.”
- “Other people must treat me considerately, fairly, and kindly, and in exactly the way I want them to treat me. If they don’t, they are no good and they deserve to be condemned and punished.”
- “I must get what I want, when I want it, and I must not get what I don’t want. It’s terrible if I don’t get what I want, and I can’t stand it.”
These irrational beliefs often lead to feelings of inadequacy, shame, guilt, depression, and/or aggressiveness, which typically result in self-destructive behaviors such as addiction. In drug and alcohol rehab, therapists lead clients to address and dispute their irrational beliefs and replace them with more rational ones.
Benefits of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
- Clients are encouraged to accept themselves, others, and the world itself
- Clients learn how to identify and respond to irrational thoughts in a more productive way
- Clients learn that although they cannot control all situations in life, they can control how they react to them and they have the ability to respond in a more positive way
How Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Is Used in Addiction Treatment
During drug and alcohol rehab at Nova, our therapist will facilitate an educational session focused on teaching clients about Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. This will include an in-depth discussion about what it is and opportunities to walk through various examples of it. This session not only introduces REBT to clients in an understandable, manageable way, but it also invites clients to begin changing the way they think so they can change the way they feel.
Although this process looks different for every client enrolled in a drug and alcohol rehab program, our therapist helps clients put behavioral strategies into action to increase their likelihood of success. These strategies may include substituting alternative enjoyable activities for substance abuse or rewarding themselves for achieving various milestones in their sobriety.
REBT is also particularly advantageous in addiction treatment when used alongside 12-step support groups and community-based recovery programming.
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