Essay on Rebt: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Irrational Beliefs

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REBT – A Therapist’s Guide (Notes)

Ellis credits Epictetus: “People are disturbed not by things but by the views they take of them.” 10

When people are confronted with Adversity (A), it is largely their Beliefs (B), specifically irrational beliefs, that lead to disturbed Consequences (C). 10

“Rational” means “that which helps people to achieve their basic goals and purposes.” Irrational beliefs are those that interfere with goals. 19

“[R]ational also means helping the group to survive and to achieve its basic goals . . ..” 19 (REBT recognizes the importance of belonging to a social group.)

Cognition, emotion, and behavior are intrinsically integrated and holistic, (3) and when people disturb themselves, their cognitions, emotions, and behaviors interactionally make them upset. 26

“When people are disturbed, they think-feel-act in a dysfunctional, self-defeating manner, and when they undisturb themselves they almost invariably change some of their cognitions, change their emotional reactions, and change their activities.” 3

The research supporting the effectiveness of REBT is strong. 6 & 7

REBT is rooted in the following postmodern ideas:

1. We don’t have any absolute certainty about reality.
2. Our views about good and bad, right and wrong, are constructions.
3. Human personality has large relational and social influences.
4. People are influenced by their cultures, and there is no evidence that some cultures are better than others.
5. We have no absolute way of knowing which goals and purposes are better or worse. 14 & 15

People have a natural ability to change themselves, but REBT “actively-directively tries to help them do so in collaboration with an involved therapist.” 16

REBT is about helping people make profound philosophical changes. 16

“REBT integrates some aspects of many therapeutic theories, and eclectically uses specific techniques from many sources . . ..” 6

REBT emphasizes working flexibly and adaptively.

Almost all feelings are natural, (20) but some are healthier than others. “Healthy negative feelings tend to produce self-helping and community-helping actions.” 21

REBT encourages striving toward success but not converting the striving to “absolutistic demands.” 21

“[P]eople innately and by social teaching develop into rational and irrational thinkers.” 22

REBT emphasizes cognitions because:

1. Irrational beliefs are often easily accessible.
2. Core irrational beliefs often affect several dysfunctions.
3. Changing a core irrational belief can often change several dysfunctions.
4. Making a profound philosophical change can make a person less susceptible to future disturbances.
5. Cognitive changes can sometimes be understood quickly. 26

People choose their beliefs based on the strength of their desires. 28

Common core irrational beliefs include:

1. absolutistic musts and shoulds
2. awfulizing
3. I-can’t-stand-it-it is
4. Damning oneself and others

Core beliefs are also related to overgeneralizations, especially related to “is.” 29

Core beliefs influence each other. 29

Cognitions maintain dysfunctions, sometimes because people have irrational beliefs about their symptoms. 31

Three main irrational beliefs are:

1. “I absolutely must under all conditions do important tasks well and be approved by significant others or else I am an inadequate and unlovable person.”
2. “Other people absolutely must under all conditions treat me fairly and justly or else they are rotten and damnable persons.
3. “Conditions under which I live absolutely must always be the way I want them to be, give me almost immediate gratification, and not require me to work too hard to change or improve them; or else it is awful, I can’t stand them, and it is impossible for me to be happy at all!”

Believing that Adversities directly cause Consequences is a common irrational belief. 36

Three main insights are likely to help clients: