Basic Concept of REBT

There are many different strategies and approaches that can be utilized in a counselling and psychotherapy environment, REBT being one of the best known.

But what is REBT?

REBT stands for Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy and was developed by the man you can see at the top of the page – Albert Ellis.

Ellis was an American psychologist who held MA and PhD degrees in clinical psychology (Columbia University/American Board of Professional Psychology).

He reasoned that we all have the potential to rise above our challenges and issues, believing that to control one’s own thoughts is to provide control over one’s emotions.

Essentially, REBT uses reasoning, suggestion, strategies, even criticism, to help clients turn around self-destructive, or destructive beliefs.

Here’s an example of an REBT strategy (provided by Rory Lees-Oakes from the Counselling Tutor Podcast):

I was on my way to lunch one day when I witnessed a minor car accident. The drivers of the two cars quickly exited their cars and started to exchange details.

The driver of the first car was rather philosophical about the whole incident saying he wasn’t too upset as he had good insurance and was just happy no one was hurt.

He drove away and continued his day.

The second driver though was looking disturbed and so I started talking to him to ensure he was alright.

He said that he was a terrible driver (because he had had the crash), he felt he had ruined his car and that he was adamant that he would never drive again.

In reply, I asked him how long he had been driving and he said “twenty years”. Have you had any other crashes? I asked him. “No” was the response.

I asked him to try turning on his car and the engine started straight up, we then checked the lights and everything was working fine.

So I said to him that you’ve driven thousands of miles over the past twenty years, all without incident.

I pointed out that the car wasn’t actually ruined and that it was perfectly safe to drive.

And what about never driving again? Well, when I said your choice was calling a tow truck and catching the bus, getting back behind the wheel of his own car didn’t seem like such a daunting thing.

Another concept that Albert Ellis believed in was the curbing of the practice of what he called ‘Musturbartion’. No, we didn’t spell that wrong!

Ellis believed that we would all be happier if we were more conscious of the use of the terms ‘must’ and ‘should’. In other words not saying “he should do this” and “you must do that”.

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

Check out more details on Albert Ellis on the website of the Albert Ellis Institute.

About Joel Helmes 22 Articles
I am a Sutherland-based Holistic Counsellor who offers a person-centered and solutions-focused approach. I utilize skills from a number of modalities. I believe that we are all capable of change and I hope that I might be able to assist you in achieving this.