Home » Counselor Intern » LCDC Exam 2014 » Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) – Albert Ellis

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) – Albert Ellis

1. View of Human Nature

a. REBT assumes that the individual has the capacity to be completely rational, irrational, sensible or crazy, which Ellis believed is biologically inherent .
b. Ellis was most concerned with irrational thinking especially that which creates upsetting or irrational thoughts.
c. Most common irrational beliefs that clients find disturbing (Ellis, 1984, p.266)

i. It is absolutely essential to be loved or approved of by every significant person on one’s life.
ii. To be worthwhile, a person must be competent , adequate, and achieving in everything attempted.
iii. Some people are wicked, bad, and villainous and therefore should be blamed or punished.
iv. It is terrible and a catastrophe whenever events do not occur as one hopes.
v. Unhappiness is the result of outside events, and therefore a person has no control over such despair.
vi. Something potentially dangerous or harmful should be cause to great concern and should always be kept in mind.
vii. Running away from difficulties and responsibilities is easier than facing them.
viii. A person must depend on others and must have someone stronger on whom to rely.
ix. The past determines one’s present behavior and thus cannot be changed.
x. A person should be upset by the problems and difficulties of others.
xi. There is always a right answer to every problem, and a failure to find this answer is a catastrophe.

d. Individuals are easily disturbed because of gullibility and suggestibility
e. Ellis was a proponent of the individual thinking of their behavior as separate from their personhood, i.e. “I did a bad thing” rather than “I am a bad person.”
f. Ellis believed that each individual has the ability to control their thoughts, feelings and their actions. In order to gain this control, a person must first understand what they are telling themselves (self-­talk) about the event or situation .
g. Cognitions about events or situations can be of four types: positive, negative, neutral, or mixed. These cognitions result in similar thoughts with positive leading to positive thoughts, negative leading to negative thoughts, etc.

2. Role of the Counselor

a. Counselors are direct and active in their teaching and correcting the client’s cognitions.
b. A good REBT counselor must be bright, knowledgeable, empathetic, persistent, scientific, interested in helping
others and use REBT in their personal lives (Ellis, 1980).
c. The counselor does not rely heavily on the DSM-­IV categories.

3. Goals

a. The primary goal is to help people live rational and productive lives.
b. REBT helps people see that it is their thoughts and beliefs about events that creates difficulties, not the events or situations themselves
c. REBT helps the client to understand that wishes and wants are not entitlements to be demanded. Thinking that involves the words must, should, ought, have to, and need are demands, not an expression of wants or desires.
d. REBT helps clients stop catastrophizing when wants and desires are not met
e. REBT stresses the appropriateness of the emotional response to the situation or event. An situation or event need not elicit more of a response than is appropriate
f. REBT assists people in changing self-­defeating behaviors or cognitions
g. REBT espouses acceptance and tolerance of self and of others in order to achieve life goals

4. Techniques

a. The first few sessions are devoted to learning the ABC principle:

i. Activating event
ii. Belief or thought process
iii. Emotional Consequences

b. Cognitive disputation is aimed at asking the client questions challenging the logic of the client’s response.
c. Imaginal disputation has the client use imagery to examine a situation where the become upset. The technique is used in one of two ways:

i.The client imagines the situation, examines the self-­talk, and then changes the self-­talk leading to a more moderate response.
ii.The client imagines a situation in which they respond differently than is habitual, and are asked to examine the self-­talk in this

d. The Emotional Control Card is an actual card intended for the client to carry in their wallet which has a list of inappropriate or self-­destructive feelings countered with appropriate nondefeating feelings. In a difficult situation, the client has this reference card on their person to help them intervene in their own self-­talk. (source: http://www.liverehab.com/rational-emotive-behavioral-therapy)
e. Behavioral disputation involves having the client behave in a way that is opposite to the way they would like to respond to the event or situation.
f. Confrontation occurs when the counselor challenges an illogical or irrational belief that the client is expressing.
g. Encouragement involves explicitly urging the client to use REBT rather than to continue self-­defeating responses.


  1. Christine Anderson says:

    Very interesting information about Ellis and his REBT approach, Samantha. I would love to learn more about your sources and the motivation behind compiling this post. Some of the techniques are intriguing and new to me, so thanks for sharing, and I look forward to learning more.

    • Hello Christine. Thanks for visiting my blog. I get my information from different sources: textbooks, notes other students share with me, online information, websites. Some of the info might be a little outdated, mainly because I have some very old editions of psychology books and counseling books I have purchased from used-book bookstores. I am creating a study guide as a free resource for people interested in substance abuse counseling. My intention is to cover all the areas required to pass the Alcohol and Drug Counselor certification exam.

      For more information about my sources and references, you can visit the Resources page. Happy Valentine’s!

      • Christine Anderson says:

        Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, Samantha. I am definitely going to follow up on our information here. I am very interested in REBT as an empowering cognitive intervention, so I am collecting information about this theory. Some of the information included in your post contradicts what I have learned about Ellis’ approach thus far in my search, so I just want to make sure my understandings are correct.

      • Hello Christine. Thanks for your comments, I really appreciate the feedback. I would like to learn from you what you have learned about REBT and Ellis. I get my information from textbooks and online and then I summarize it, keeping the main points, and publish it. I don’t go into depth because it is not necessary for the study guide I am creating. I want to publish the right information, though. I don’t want my readers and subscribers to learn the wrong information 😀

        Would you help me identify the areas that contradict what you have learned about REBT and Ellis? Thanks a lot Christine! I will make any necessary changes to provide accurate info. I look forward to hearing from you.

      • Christine Anderson says:

        I’d be happy to share whatever I learn if it represents a concern with what you have posted here. It could be the information I am familiar with is incorrect. I’ll be looking in to this.

      • Thanks Christine. I appreciate the feedback.

  2. Andre Mills says:

    Thank you

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