REBT – Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is a very popular form of cognitive behavior therapy. It was created by Albert Ellis and has been widely used in psychological treatments since the 1950s. It has been essentially created as a philosophy of living.

This approach chiefly builds on the foundation that beliefs make experiencing emotions like grief, anger, joy, and so on. This approach has been effectively used to reduce emotional pain in patients.

The ABC of REBT:

REBT is based on the ABC theory. The ABC model proposed by Albert Elis is as follows:

A-        Activating Event: It refers to an event that happens in the environment

B-        Beliefs: It refers to one’s belief about the event that has occurred

C-        Consequence: It is the emotional response to the belief of the person  concerned

Below is an illustration with an example.

  1. Your friend accuses you of stealing
  2. You believe “That’s outrageous. How can he accuse me of such an act!”
  3. You feel very upset or angry with your friend

If your belief (B) had been different then your emotional response would also have been different. For example:

  1. Your friend accuses you of stealing
  2. You believe “Our friendship is important to me. I cannot let our friendship be       ruined because of this”
  3. You feel anxious that you might part ways with your friend

The ‘Three Musts’:

The Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapyalso states the ‘Three Musts’ that often lead to negative emotions. These beliefs are irrational and are based on the demands that are felt by society. They are as follows:

  1. “I must perform well to win the approval of others. Else I am worthless.”
  2. “Others must treat us kindly and in a fair manner. If they do not do so, then they are bad people and deserve to be punished.”
  3. “I must always obtain whatever I want and whenever I want it. Similarly, I must never get what I do not want. If it does not happen, then I feel miserable.”

If you are unable to attain the ‘Must 1’ then you feel anxious and often slip into depression. If you are not treated as per your expectations, that is, the ‘Must 2’ is not fulfilled, then you feel angry and upset. Similarly, when the ‘Must 3’ is not fulfilled then you feel self-pity.

The REBT encourages the patient to challenge the Irrational Beliefs. Once the patient learns to change these irrational beliefs, his emotional response to any event automatically changes.

A person who used to be outraged after receiving a bad appraisal may now learn to stand it and take it in his stride. Instead of feeling angry at a friend for accusing him of stealing, he may now start feeling annoyed and may start approaching the situation with renewed determination. He may now open up to the friend and start working towards having a healthier relationship.

Albert Elis had clarified that simply understanding these beliefs is not enough. To reap the maximum benefits from Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, one must continuously recognize his or her irrational beliefs, challenge them and change them.

One must keep on refuting these beliefs in his or her daily life. Only then would he or she be able to convert negative emotions to positive ones and lead a full and healthy life.

By Manali

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