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Albert Ellis Rational Emotive Therapy

Do You Know What Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Is

What is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)?

17 December, 2021

In 1955, Albert Ellis created rational emotive behavior therapy. He was the founder and president emeritus of the Albert Ellis Institute, in New York City. He went on to be seen as one of the most influential psychotherapists of all time, even above Sigmund Freud.

In 1953, Ellis saw psychoanalysis as ineffective and not very philosophical. He also almost completely rejected behavioral therapy. So between 1953 and 1955, he started to fill his therapeutic toolbox with philosophy and live desensitization. Thats how he ended up a true rational emotive behavior therapist.

At first, rational emotive behavior therapy was very simple. That might be why it didnt catch on until later. Its a method of brief therapy to help people change inside, especially on an emotional level.

Rational emotive behavior therapy has already shown in some experiments that people can often significantly improve in a relatively short amount of time .

There are three musts that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy.

-A. Ellis-

Rebt Exercises & Worksheets

There are many exercises, techniques, and interventions grounded in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and CBT theory that therapists use in treatment. There are also many exercises that can be completed individually if you are not currently working with a therapist.

This is a very small selection of the many great exercises available, but they provide a good representation of the kinds of activities that can help identify, challenge, and adapt harmful or destructive ways of thinking.

Understanding Our Response To Stress And Adversity Handout

This three-page informational handout, which is part of a more extensive resource created by Dartmouth College, is a great standalone way to learn about the ABC Model. The worksheet starts with a very relatable scenario and discusses why we have different responses to stress. It clearly and briefly explains what the ABC Model is, provides an example, and describes how to use it effectively.

This is a good option for someone looking to quickly learn about the ABC Model and how to use for themselves or to give their clients to take home.

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Rational And Irrational Beliefs

Rational beliefs help you confront unpleasant things . These are usually preferences, hopes, or desires. For example, I hope this one awful thing doesnt happen, but if it does then I can handle it and still be able to be happy. Or it might be: Itd be nice if Jon liked me, but if he doesnt, I can still have a good life.

We teach people that they upset themselves. We cant change the past, so we can change how people are thinking, feeling, and behaving today.

-A. Ellis-

Irrational beliefs contribute to feelings and actions that will sabotage your ability to confront any particular, unpleasant A. Theyre usually rigid statements like these: I should have, I would have, I have to, etc.

The three most basic rigid statements that create psychological problems are these:

  • I absolutely have to be successful in most of my actions and relationships. If Im not, that means Im useless and not good enough as a person.
  • Everyone else absolutely has to treat me considerately, fairly, respectfully, and kindly. If they dont, theyre not as good as they say they are. So they dont deserve happiness in their lives.
  • My living conditions absolutely have to be comfortable, pleasant, and valuable. If theyre not, things will be horrible. I wont be able to take it and the world will be terrible.

Core Principles Of Rebt


A core concept of REBT is the ABC model. This model explains how, while we may blame external events for our unhappiness, it is our perception of these events that lies at the heart of psychological distress.

REBT is grounded in the idea that people generally want to do well in life and reach their goals.

However, sometimes irrational thoughts and feelings get in the way of these goals. These beliefs are thought to influence how an individual perceives circumstances and events.

The ABC model is as follows:

  • A â activating event â this is when something happens in the environment which triggers a negative reaction or response.

  • B â belief â this describes the thoughts about the triggering event or situation, usually irrational thoughts about the activating event.

  • C â consequence â this is the emotional response to the belief, which are usually distressing emotions that result from the irrational thoughts or beliefs.

An example to illustrate this is to imagine a student who has the belief that they must be perfect in everything they do. The activating event could be that they fail to get the top grade in an exam at school.

The triggered beliefs about this activating event could result in irrational thoughts such as âI am a failureâ, âI should feel ashamedâ, or âI must do betterâ.

Holding irrational beliefs can make it almost impossible to respond to activating situations in a healthy way.

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Alcohol And Drug Addiction

In 2010, up to 18% of drug and alcohol treatment centres in the United States were using REBT as their main treatment.

The idea of using this type of therapy is to facilitate sobriety and return to health and happiness by returning and/or lessening irrational thoughts and negative emotions that lead to addictive behaviours.

REBT has been shown to work quite effectively for people with these addictions.

The therapy works to change the way these individuals think about situations, have more positive emotional reactions, and alter the way they act.

The Impact Of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Within the wide field of cognitive-behavioral oriented psychotherapy, Elliss suggestions have been especially useful for anger, anxiety, frustration, social phobia, shyness, and sexual dysfunctions.

Rational emotive behavior therapy has influenced many other cognitive-behavioral therapies. Some of these are Maxie Clarence Maultsby, Jr.s rational behavior therapy, Arnold A. Lazaruss multimodal therapy, and Aaron T. Beckscognitive therapy.

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Do Irrational Beliefs And Rational Beliefs Influence Athletic Performance

Current knowledge about the relationship between irrational and rational beliefs and athletic performance stems from disparate research, anecdotal reflections, and self-reported athlete perceptions. The current review debates a potentially complex picture of how irrational beliefs may relate to performance that has the potential to generate many future research studies. For example, can irrational beliefs be beneficial for performance in the short-term compared to the long-term? Also, can athletes engage in cognitive dissonance that allows them to utilize irrational beliefs for acute performance purposes, but endorsing rational beliefs as a more general life philosophy? Further, the motivational properties of irrational and rational beliefs for sport performance need to be better understood. The present review offers some theoretically plausible ideas that marry self-determination theory constructs with irrational beliefs, but research should examine these using meditational and longitudinal methods to understand how irrational beliefs predict changes in motivation regulation. Also, the notion of resilience in sport is becoming an important construct in research, and REBT addresses some of the main recommendations for resilience training. Therefore, research exploring the use of REBT to enhance the resilience of athletes should be undertaken, with a view to understanding the contribution of REBT to long-term athletic achievement.

Replacing Negative Beliefs With Positive Beliefs

Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)- Daniel Man of Reason

This fundamental exercise helps clients confront negative and irrational automatic thoughts or beliefs. It encourages the use of reason and rationality to replace old, self-critical beliefs with new, more positive and more functional beliefs.

The Positive Belief Record worksheet can help clients complete this exercise.

Itâs an extremely simple and straightforward method of challenging oneâs beliefs with a scientific approach.

At the top of the worksheet, the client will find two boxes where he or she can write down the old belief and come up with a new belief to replace it.

Underneath the two beliefs is the heading âEvidence that supports the new belief (or isnât entirely consistent with the old belief.â As you probably guessed, this is where the client can list the evidence that challenges their negative, irrational beliefs.

Enough space is provided to write down 10 pieces of evidence that support the new belief, or call the old belief into question. This evidence can include experiences you have had, something someone else has said to you, or anything else you can think of that supports the new belief or sheds doubt on the old belief.

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Rebt Interventions And Their Success Rates

If you undergo REBT, what can you expect? You will work through a variety of problems with your therapist and establish a number of goals of your therapy. The first step is understanding that a problem exists and having the willingness to change. REBT works to help the client challenge, dispute, and question negative emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. Once this is uncovered, the therapist will focus on helping you transform your more irrational beliefs into rational and self-constructive thoughts. It’s not an easy process. You can expect to continually work on these techniques – practice, practice, practice. As Ellis points out in his third insight – it’s not enough to recognize an irrational belief, we must rigorously dispute these again and again and refocus on more positive, constructive beliefs. Change is not going to happen overnight.

So, is REBT an effective form of therapy? Absolutely. REBT has been studied time and again since the 1950s. Study after study has shown the positive effects of this method of therapy. The research has spoken that rational emotive behavior therapy is a validated method to change our negative responses and lead us to a happier life.

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Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is a type cognitive therapy first used by Albert Ellis which focuses on resolving emotional and behavioral problems. The goal of the therapy is to change irrational beliefs to more rational ones.REBT encourages a person to identify their general and irrational beliefs and subsequently persuades the person to challenge these false beliefs through reality testing.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is a type cognitive therapy first used by Albert Ellis which focuses on resolving emotional and behavioral problems. The goal of the therapy is to change irrational beliefs to more rational ones.REBT encourages a person to identify their general and irrational beliefs and subsequently persuades the person to challenge these false beliefs through reality testing.

  • 2. Introduction : Who is Albert Ellis?2
  • 3. Albert Ellis was anAmerican psychologist who in 1955 developed RationalEmotive Behavior Therapy . He held MA and PhD degrees in clinical psychology fromColumbia University and the American Board of ProfessionalPsychology . He also founded and was the President of the New YorkCity-based Albert Ellis Institute for decades. He is generally considered to be one of the originators of thecognitive revolutionary paradigm shift in psychotherapy andan early proponent of cognitive-behavioral therapies3
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    What Is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

    Rational emotive behavior therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy developed by psychologist Albert Ellis. REBT is an action-oriented approach thats focused on helping people deal with irrational beliefs and learn how to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in a healthier, more realistic way.

    When people hold irrational beliefs about themselves or the world, problems can result. The goal of REBT is to help people recognize and alter those beliefs and negative thinking patterns in order to overcome psychological problems and mental distress.

    According to REBT, our cognition, emotions, and behavior are connected. In order to understand the impact of events and situations that people encounter throughout life, its essential to look at the beliefs people hold about these experiences and the emotions that arise as a result of those beliefs.

    The Influence Of Irrational Beliefs And Rebt On Athletic Performance

    Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: It Works for Me

    As evidenced in the extant research, it is unfavorable to hold irrational beliefs due to the associated maladaptive emotional and behavioral consequences that impede mental health. So it is tempting and indeed reasonable to assume that within a performance setting such as sport, irrational beliefs would be deleterious for goal attainment. However, there is little evidence that irrational beliefs interfere with athletic performance or that rational beliefs facilitate athletic performance . In addition, there is little evidence that irrational beliefs lead to the same emotional and behavioral outcomes in athletes as they do in non-athletes. It is sensible to hypothesize that irrational beliefs are as much of an issue in athletes as they are in non-athletes, as irrational beliefs are evident in almost all societal and cultural domains , but sport research to date is yet to determine this.


    To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed. .

    Critical Summary

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    Disputing Or Challenging The Irrational Beliefs And Changing Our Behaviors

    The second phase of REBT’s healing process is the dispute or challenge phase. That is, in order to act and feel differently, we must dispute or challenge the irrational beliefs we experience. Essentially, what we are questioning is our irrational beliefs:

    Who says if I don’t win someone’s approval I’m no good?

    Where is it written in the rule books that a boss always acts professionally and treats others fairly?

    Why do I have to be absolutely miserable if I don’t get something I want? Why shouldn’t I just feel slightly annoyed instead of downright miserable?

    Once individuals undergoing REBT can work through the dispute or challenge of their irrational thoughts, they can move toward how to engage in more effective thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Termed as an effective new philosophy on life, individuals in this phase start to recognize that there are no absolute “musts” – there is no evidence that suggests these “three musts” are the only way to think.

    If you are undergoing this phase of REBT, you might start to reevaluate your responses:

    “I don’t like how my boss acted, but I can stand it.”

    “Instead of feeling enraged that my spouse accused me of cheating, I will feel annoyed and determined to make my marriage work.”

    “I think I’ll go to my exercise class after work – I think more clearly after engaging in physical exercise.”

    The Influence Of Irrational Beliefs And Rational Beliefs On Mental Health

    General Irrational Beliefs


    Demandingness in REBT is the primary irrational belief and research indicates that demandingness is positively related to a vast array of dysfunctional emotional and behavioral outcomes. Specifically, and non-exhaustively, demandingness is associated with disordered eating , reduced anger control , relationship problems, social avoidance and isolation , decreased performance in social situations , procrastination , alcohol abuse , interpersonal issues , suicide , and reduced task performance . It is reasonable to suggest that none of these outcomes are conducive to short or long-term athletic goal achievement.


    Low frustration tolerance


    General Rational Beliefs

    Unconditional Self Acceptance

    Critical Summary

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    Burnout At School Or Work

    Researchers have studied the impact that REBT has on professional and academic performance. One 2018 study showed that this approach was effective in reducing symptoms of burnout for undergraduate students and continued to help even months after therapy concluded.

    Another 2018 study showed similar results for nurses. Group REBT reduced their job-related stress and burnout while increasing their job satisfaction and commitment to their organization.

    Key Questions For Future Rebt Research In Sport

    Albert Ellis and Gloria – Counselling 1965 Full Session – Rational Emotive Therapy – CAPTIONED

    In this section, the themes highlighted throughout this article are brought forward and key questions for future research are proposed. These questions should guide the future investigation of REBT in sport to enable stronger conclusions to be drawn about the value of REBT theory and practice as applied to the mental health and performance of athletes. The key questions reflect what is currently known about irrational beliefs and REBT from research outside of sport, and bring forth the most salient areas for future research in sport.

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    How Rebt Relates To Positive Psychology

    While Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy was developed long before positive psychology arrived on the psychology scene , they share many of the same goals and areas of focus. Of course, there are some areas of disagreement between the two, such as the strict focus on rationality in REBT versus the importance many positive psychologists place on feelings or even intuition, but in general, they fit together quite well.

    Upon review of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and positive psychology, it turns out they have a lot in common:

    • They both focus on removing or challenging the negative.
    • They both place great importance on not only removing the negative but also on replacing the negative with positive.
    • They both assume that people are competent and capable, and rely on guiding people through the process of finding better options for themselves and choosing the positive.
    • They both recognize the vital importance of how people think, rather than focusing only on what they think.
    • The ultimate goal for both REBT and positive psychology is to help people live better, more fulfilling, and happier lives.

    Most importantly, even though there are theoretical differences and disagreements, they are not mutually exclusive. A client or practitioner in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy will likely find much support and encouragement in positive psychology, and many positive psychologists recognize the importance of therapies like REBT and CBT.

    Rebt’s Abc Theory: The Diagnostic Step

    Based on Ellis’ theory that individuals are blaming outward events on their negative emotions instead of their interpretation of the events, the ABC Model was proposed as:

    A – Activating Event: an event that happens in the environment

    B – Beliefs: the belief you have about the event that happened

    C – Consequence: the emotional response to your belief

    This model was developed to educate others of how beliefs are the cause of emotional and behavioral responses, and not that events cause our emotional reactions.

    Here’s an example that will help you understand better:

    A – Your spouse falsely accuses you of cheating on him/her

    B – You believe “What a jerk! S/he has no right to accuse me of that!

    C – You feel angry/upset

    If you had a different belief , the emotional response would be different:

    A – Your spouse falsely accuses you of cheating on him/her

    B – You believe, “This cannot end our relationship – that would be too much to bear if we got a divorce.”

    C – You feel anxious that your relationship might end

    Here again, the ABC model is illustrating that it is not the event that causes the emotional response, rather, it’s the belief about the event that causes the emotional response . Because people interpret and respond differently to events, we don’t always have the same emotional response to a given event.

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