Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Over Time
In Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Over Time, Ann Vernon demonstrates this influential approach, which seeks to help people change self-defeating thoughts so they can feel and behave in more effective ways.
Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), developed by Albert Ellis in the 1950s, was the first of the main cognitive–behavioral therapies. REBT centers on the theory that people naturally cope with the stressors of life by adjusting their cognitive, emotional, and behavioral reactions. It posits that people have a tendency toward irrational thinking—creating absolute beliefs for themselves such as "I must always be liked" and "I can't stand it when others don't treat me exactly as I think I must be treated."
Such absolutist thinking is classified as irrational, as these demands are impossible to fulfill, and they in turn create habitually negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. REBT therapists focus on disputing irrational thoughts by showing how they increase a client's level of disturbance. Therapists then provide ways for the client to reduce disturbance through functional, logical, and empirical disputes and by teaching methods that clients use to help themselves become less irrational and more effective in how they think, feel, and act.
In this series of six sessions, Dr. Vernon works with a woman in her 20s who is struggling with anxiety related to leaving home, anger at her stepfather, and her parents' divorce many years ago. Consistent with REBT's present-focus, Dr. Vernon helps her client to recognize that she cannot change the past and, instead, helps her to deal more effectively with her present anger and anxiety. Dr. Vernon uses functional, logical, empirical, and philosophical disputes, as well as weekly homework assignments, to help her client decrease her anger and lessen the intensity of her anxiety.