REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy)


REBT – Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy


REBT – We being a human operates on three things – emotions, behaviors, and thinking. You believe that when you think you act as a response of that thought, or either your thought generates your emotional reaction. Most of us believe that these their components (emotions, behaviors, and thinking) do not go in response to any event. But actually, in any situation we think, behave and emotionally analyses that situation.

This REBT concept was given by Albert Ellis in 1953 that – emotions, behaviors, and thinking are not disparate human emotions but they work in an integrative and holistic manner.

REBT Therapy Origin

The REBT theory was new in that era because during that period Psychoanalysis was mostly used. It doesn’t get enough popularity but Ellis rules out over the period of practice that in psychoanalysis the therapist develop a contact of the person with his unconscious, try to resolve it by giving insight with his problems. However, most of the clients come up with the belief they get to know what they were but not what to do to change and it’s not deep and lasting personal change. So, the problem remains there and he/she is unable to function normally. So, what he did was to implement Homework assignments and skill training to a social phobia client. He saw that with these behavior interventions the client improved. This put the basis of Rational Emotive Therapy. Read about Anxiety Disorders

Theory on which REBT is based

  • Philosophy of human happiness
  • Albert Ellis read Epictetus and laid the foundation of his therapy on the basis of his saying “People are disturbed not by things but by the views they take of them”
  • He proposed that human is “constructivist” who don’t merely get disturbed by external influences but also significantly contributes to and maintain their own dysfunctional thinking, feelings, and doings.
  • RET is an integrative and eclectic approach
    • Integrative means it integrates all three components: Multimodal method -emotions, behaviors, and thinking
    • The eclectic approach means it takes elements of every therapy as
      • Unconscious motives and defense systems as Freudian do
      • Jung’s self-actualization
      • Roger’s unconditional positive regard/ acceptance
      • Adler – encourages clients to change
      • Skinnerian’s and behaviorist – give Homework assignments, use operant conditioning, employ in vivo desensitization
      • Gestalt’s – experiential, encounter, feeling methods
  • People have both rational and irrational beliefs and when they deal their irrational belief through therapy or self- help they are less disturbed
  • As RET is based on philosophy, he proposed that reality is relative, human construct realities as per his social and relational influences (social constructions), cultural rearing has greater influences on personality.
  • Constructionist – people thinking and working in a flexible and adaptive manner. It holds that rigid absolutist must and should upset people are learned from their culture, but also created from their own creative and biological tendencies
  • RET negate absolutistic, rigid thinking, but encourages people to have preferences, goals, desires, and standards


REBT basis terms

Rational Beliefs Irrational Beliefs
  • Self-helping
  • Self- defeating
  • Flexible, adaptive, productive, consistent with social reality
  • Rigid, dogmatic, unhealthy, maladaptive, inconsistent with social reality
  • Helping the group to survive and to achieve its basic goals
  • Interfering with the group survival and wellbeing
  • The balance between self and social interests  
  • Unbalance between self and social interests  
Healthy Negative Feelings Unhealthy Negative Feelings
  • Tend to produce self-helping and community helping actions
  • Interfere with reparative acts or to result in inaction or destructive behavior
  • Like sorrow, regret, frustration, annoyance
  • Like panic, depression, rage, and self-pity


ABC Theory of Emotional Disturbance

  • When people are confronted with adversity and reacted with disturbing consequences such as anxiety and depression, it was largely their belief system (B), together with A, that lead to their dysfunctions.  Thus A × B = C

How they define these terms:

Activating Event / Adversity (A)

  • An “A” can be internal or external, real or imagined
  • An “A” can be any event in past, present, and future

REBT Consequences

  • Major Unhealthy Negative Emotions (like panic, depression, rage, and self-pity)
  • Major Self-Defeating Behaviors (self-injury, hitting, crying, panic attacks)


REBT Beliefs

Human operates on some dysfunctional and self-defeating behaviors that Ellis labeled as Core Irrational Beliefs. Core Irrational beliefs that people hold are

  1. Absolutistic must and should
  2. Awfulizing
  3. I can’t stand it
  4. Damning oneself and others
  5. All people belief revolves around three major absolutistic must or demand – Self, Other and the World

The therapist helps the client to identify the Core derivatives Irrational beliefs during the session. It helps the client to have insight about his thinking patterns.

Core derivatives irrational beliefs that people hold are

  1. Awfulizing – to imagine it bad and worse
  2. I can’t stand it – difficult to bear
  3. Overgeneralizing – to generalize about any situation, incidence, or about people based on one experience
  4. Jumping to the conclusion – judge or decide without having significant evidences
  5. Focusing on the negatives
  6. Disqualifying the positives
  7. Minimizing the good things
  8. Personalizing – takes the blame of circumstances on oneself
  9. Phoneyism – belief that one shouldn’t act or behave in a way as it is not consistent with his real feelings and motives
  10. Perfectionism – one’s belief that things should be done in a perfect manner

As you go through all these three basic terms in ABC Model, let’s have an example.

For example an antecedent can be – a person girlfriend came to him and told him that she can’t continue the relationship further with him

Irrational beliefs: It’s awful

I can’t stand it

She shouldn’t do this to me

Consequences: Hostility, depression

The Reciprocal Influence of A, B, and C on each other

  • A affecting B and C
  • B affecting A and C
  • C affecting A and B


Once you have identified the Cs and have agreed to the most important or pressing consequences that your client would like to work on, it’s time to assess the A’s that precipitate C’s. If you have several Cs, you have to spend some time prioritizing what to work on and in what order

REBT Techniques & Intervention

    • Cognitive Techniques
    • Behavior Techniques
    • Emotive Techniques


Cognitive Techniques Behavior Techniques Emotive Techniques
Disputing Reinforcement Rational Emotive Imagery
Rational Coping Statements Penalties Forceful Coping Statements
Modeling Shame Attacking exercises Forceful Taped Disputing
Referencing Skill Training Role Playing
Cognitive Homework Paradoxical Homework Reverse Role Playing
Biblotherapy/ Psychoeducational Assignments Relapse Prevention Humor
Reframing In vivo desensitization Unconditional Acceptance by the therapist
Recording Therapy Sessions Staying in difficult situations Teaching Unconditional Self-acceptance and Other Acceptance
Acting on rational beliefs Encouragement
Encounter Exercises


Disputing is one of the major cognitive therapy in REBT. It helps to develop rational belief and healthy negative feelings after confronting irrational beliefs.


Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy


Difference Between REBT and CBT




More of an eclectic approach taking elements of therapy from Freud, Jung, Skinner, gestalt, Adler and many more It’s not an eclectic approach rather they claim to have a purely cognitive approach
Its an integrative therapy taking cognitive, behavior and emotive elements It’s an integrative therapy that takes only two components cognitive and behavior unlike REBT
Based on Epictetus philosophy;
Its origin is based on the Philosophy of human happiness. Therefore, they believe that insight and acceptance of the problem is the basis of every problem
As Beck was a psychiatrist so the basis of CBT is purely on cognitions and behavioral modifications as result of these cognitions
Negative healthy and unhealthy emotions help to increase human acceptance for emotions. CBT believes that cognitions are the root cause of every problem so emotions doesn’t get enough weightage
All irrational beliefs are the root cause of 4 basic Irrational beliefs

⦁ Absolutistic must and should
⦁ Awfulizing
⦁ I can’t stand it
⦁ Damning oneself and others

CBT proposed that all Cognitive distortions revolved around three things.

  1. Self
  2. Others
  3. The world


More Articles Link Below :

  1. Depression – Clinical Depression (2018)
  2. Anxiety Disorders
  3. Applied Behavior Analysis


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This Article is Written By Anum Farooq

  • Co-Founder & Organizer:
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • ABA therapist 
  • Researcher

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Anxiety Disorders –


REBT - Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy -

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