Rational emotive behavior therapy, also known as REBT, is a kind of cognitive-behavioral therapy. The goal of this modality is to help clients understand and change irrational beliefs. For many, these negative beliefs have affected their entire lives before treatment.
REBT was developed by Albert Ellis after dealing with severe social anxiety when speaking with women. After performing an experiment where he self-imposed himself to speak with 100 women in a month.
He discovered his anxiety reduced significantly. This finding led to what is known as rational emotive behavioral therapy today.
What Is Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy?
EBT combines behavioral strategies and assesses latent feelings and thoughts. Ellis did not believe that the psychoanalytic approach to therapy did enough to help patients; believing simply becoming aware of problems will not change behaviors.
Today, REBT helps patients alter their illogical beliefs. It also helps stop negative patterns of thought, thus reducing psychological stress.
How Does Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy Work?
REBT follows the ABC model. A stands for the activating event, or the event that triggers a fear or emotional response. B stands for your beliefs and how you think about a certain event or situation. C represents consequences, or the emotional response occurring as a result of one’s held beliefs.
With our REBT clinicians, the first step is to identify what a person’s irrational thoughts are.
For example, “I must wear black every day,” or “I must wash my hands three times before answering the door,” would be examples of irrational thoughts. Some other irrational beliefs may include:
- Believing that you need to be perfect to be successful in life
- Feeling you can’t control your own happiness and that the outside world (external factors) control your life
- Becoming excessively upset about others’ mistakes or errors, misconduct or attitudes
- Believing that avoidance is the key to a happier life
- Frequent thoughts telling you that you’re worthless and that you don’t deserve to live
- Believing it’s too late to do anything to change one’s life
These beliefs are not beneficial to anyone in recovery and lead to disappointment, regret, anxiety recrimination, and becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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After clients and a therapist discuss rational beliefs, it’s the client’s objective to challenge them. One’s therapist will help, but sessions may seem confrontational.
This is by design. Your therapist will be honest, blunt, and logical.
It is important not to misconstrue bluntness with cruelty. This modality tackles problems head-on, allowing clients to understand illogical beliefs and how they are negatively impacting one’s life.
That doesn’t mean therapists don’t care or aren’t supportive.
It may be hard at first to understand or accept the irrationality of past beliefs. Even once irrational thoughts are identified, the next step is still difficult. During the next aspect of the recovery process, clients are asked to change their beliefs.
Perfectionism is a typical irrational standard many hold themselves to.
Perfection is not attainable, and clients work through why perfectionism doesn’t exist, and how these thought patterns add to the cycle of addiction.
For instance, failing at something can actually be beneficial. Failure affords introspection, often catalyzing progress in one’s overall self-development.
What Are Some Methods Used to Change Unwanted Behaviors?
In Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, there are a few methods used to help people in recovery change unwanted behaviors.
Guided Imagery for Addiction Recovery
Through guided imagery, a therapist talks to clients through a series of experiences. Examples include scenarios one may commonly encounter; such as dealing with a frustrating situation, manic episode, depression, anxiety, and everything in between. Clinicians guide clients through the steps necessary to handle inherent behavioral and cognitive problems.
With repetition and practice, clients learn to correct detrimental responses in regard to conflict resolution.
Journaling for Addiction Recovery
The efficacy of journaling for addiction recovery (including the sphere of mental health and self-development) is well documented. Journaling for recovery may include gratitude journaling, recounting past traumatic experiences, expressing painful feelings, and writing letters to those who may never read them.
Clearing one’s thoughts by processing them into journal entries helps one relax and offers stress relief.
Meditation for Addiction Recovery
Meditation is a kind of mindfulness, where clients sit quietly to clear their heads of intrusive, negative thoughts.
Meditation calms the central nervous system, allowing clients to process rational thinking more easily. It’s about calming down your body and relaxing, ensuring clients are not in a hyper-aware or hyperactive state.
Being calm improves the likelihood of thinking through decisions and having appropriate reactions.
What Are The Benefits Of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy In Addiction Treatment?
Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy tackles anxiety, specific phobias, and behaviors such as approval-seeking, and acute shyness. Phobias and anxieties can lead to addiction and dependency as people try to find ways to cope with their untreated illnesses.
Rational emotive behavioral therapy targets:
- Negative thoughts
- Harmful behaviors
- Harmful visualization/Self-visualization
Battling Negative Thoughts with REBT
With negative thoughts, one must remember many people who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction often think in absolutes.
Those with untreated substance use disorders struggle to think outside of black or white.
Nothing is grey. There is no room for limbo or uncertainty. It is either all or nothing.
Many with substance use disorders believe they will never escape addiction. These thoughts are in part caused by one’s physical dependence on addictive substances. However life-threatening, those who are not ready for sobriety will not commit to treatment meaningfully enough to recover.
REBT’s goal is to counteract detrimental thinking patterns to lessen one’s chance of relapse.
Harmful Behaviors Associated with Addiction
Irrational thinking extends to irrational behavior. Those with untreated substance use disorders are compelled to use one’s substance/s of choice- despite real-life consequences.
Consequences include familial estrangement, arrests, contraction of communicable diseases, self-harming behavior, and potentially fatal overdoses.
REBT helps to analyze problematic behaviors. In time, clients recognize the positive and negative aspects of their actions.
Addressing Harmful Visualization with Addiction Medicine
If you think poorly of yourself, you’re less likely to do things to help yourself.
Clients commonly feel they deserve whatever life-threatening, detrimental position they’re in. REBT establishes a sense of self-worth, positive self-talk, and remission of guilt and thoughts of worthlessness.
REBT first tackles negative thoughts.
Afterward, clients learn to counter irrational thinking and behaviors.
Trauma often affects those in recovery adversely; common thoughts include “I don’t belong here,” “I don’t deserve happiness,” “no one loves me,” so on and so forth.
Relearning one’s feelings, insights, and opinions is valid is crucial to recovery; as are maintaining healthy relationships interpersonally and within oneself.
Clients beginning treatment often struggle with accepting kind gestures and words, doubt the validity of their thoughts, or remain in a conflicted web of self odium.
The last step of REBT is to practice acceptance; treatment teaches clients to accept themselves, those around them, and real-life situations.
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