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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

A Philosophical Approach to Mental Health

 

Professionally speaking, I’m a provider of care for mental, emotional, and behavioral health (collectively “mental health”). To be specific, I’m a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) practitioner.

 

This psychotherapeutic modality falls under the umbrella of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). In general, CBT focuses on patterns of thinking and believing which influence how people further think or believe, feel (emotions or bodily sensations), and behave.

 

Specifically, REBT theory uses the ABC model to illustrate how when Activating events (“Actions”) occur and people maintain irrational Beliefs about the events, these unhelpful assumptions – and not the actual occurrences – are what create unpleasant cognitive, emotive, bodily sensation, and behavioral Consequences.

 

In particular, there are four predominate irrational beliefs which people use: demandingness, awfulizing, low frustration tolerance, and global evaluations. Addressing these, the ABC model incorporates Disputation of unhelpful assumptions in order to explore Effective new beliefs.

 

From a psychological standpoint, people disturb themselves using a Belief-Consequence (B-C) connection. Of course, this isn’t to suggest that in the context of the naturalistic or physical world there is no Action-Consequence (A-C) connection.

 

As an example, if a scorpion stings you (Action), you may feel pain (Consequence). Still, if you live through the experience and unproductively Believe, “That shouldn’t have happened to me,” then you’ll likely disturb yourself into anger or another unpleasant emotion (Consequence).

 

Thus, I help people to stop upsetting themselves through use of B-C connections, though I can’t fully resolve their A-C connections. If there were a mathematical formula for the ABC model, it would be something like: Action + Belief = Consequence ÷ Disputation = Effective new belief.

 

Furthermore, this helpful psychotherapeutic modality uses the technique of unconditional acceptance to relieve suffering. This is accomplished through use of unconditional self-acceptance, unconditional other-acceptance, and unconditional life-acceptance.

 

Additionally, a foundational component incorporated into REBT relates to Stoicism—a philosophical practice valuing four virtues (wisdom, courage, temperance or moderation, and justice) as a means of achieving eudemonia—a life well-lived. All of these techniques require frequent practice.

 

When speaking of philosophy, there are two meanings of this term which both apply to REBT. First, philosophy may be defined as a discipline comprising as its core logic, aesthetics, morals and ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology.

 

The work of Stoic philosophers which influenced REBT includes Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and others. Regarding these ancient philosophers, the late psychologist who developed REBT, Albert Ellis, stated:

 

My main influences were philosophical. I happened to have a hobby of philosophy since the age of 16. There were some cognitive influences but I really got my main theory that people largely upset themselves, from ancient philosophers, some of the Asians, but mainly from the Greeks and Romans.

 

Secondly, philosophy may be defined as an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs. This is where brief understanding of logic and reason come into play.

 

Suppose you believe that scorpions shouldn’t sting you. This is an absolutistic form of a prescription, because you rigidly demand that under no circumstances whatsoever should you be stung by a scorpion – as though the arachnid somehow understands your prescription.

 

Upon what is your belief based? Have you ever paused to contemplate this matter? Here, I’m not inquiring about from where thoughts originate, because your guess is as helpful as mine – and I can’t begin to answer that question in any meaningful way.

 

In fact, I’m not concerned with the origin issue at all. Rather, I’m addressing the matter of what you currently consider good, bad, right, wrong, or otherwise, as well as what you conclude must or mustn’t occur.

 

To examine your belief about scorpions, it may be useful to demonstrate how a syllogism works, as this helpful illustration addresses how personal philosophies function:

 

Form –

If p, then q; if q, then r; therefore, if p, then r.

 

Example –

If I have rules for life, then my rules shouldn’t be violated. If my rules shouldn’t be violated, then scorpions shouldn’t sting me. Therefore, if I have rules for life, then scorpions shouldn’t sting me.

 

Syllogistically speaking, the logic checks out. However, the premises upon which your logic is based are unreasonable. This is because scorpions have no clue about your prescriptive belief and they may violate your rule if or when they come into contact with you.

 

What I’ve illustrated here is a personal philosophy of life upon which a belief is based. This irrationally demandingness prescription is the sort of belief that causes unpleasant consequences. To demonstrate the causative role your belief plays, consider the following B-C connection:

 

Action – A scorpion stings you. (Aside from the obvious A-C connection which results in a sting and subsequent pain, let’s look at the B-C connection with which you disturb yourself.)

 

Belief – You unproductively believe about being stung, “That shouldn’t have happened to me, because I didn’t want it to!” (This belief is predicated on your personal philosophy of life – that under absolutely no circumstances whatsoever should you be stung by scorpions.)

 

Consequence – Because of your irrationally prescriptive belief, you experience anger, your heartrate increases, and you yell at a person who asks about whether or not you’re okay. (Thus, the A-C connection regarding a sting isn’t the same result as the B-C connection of self-disturbance.)

 

REBT uses disputation of self-disturbing beliefs so that people can use more adaptive and effective new beliefs. As well, this modality uses the practice of Stoic unconditional acceptance to reduce suffering.

 

Noteworthy, under the umbrella of CBT is Cognitive Therapy (CT) which was developed by the late psychiatrist Aaron Beck. In terms of distinction from REBT, Ellis stated:

 

Beck is largely informational processing and does what I originally did, but I have become more philosophical. I teach people the general philosophy of self-acceptance, other-acceptance and world-acceptance and Beck really doesn’t do that.

 

An additional source expands upon this matter by asserting:

 

In addition to Stoicism, REBT also incorporates constructivism, humanism, existentialism, and even Buddhist themes, in various ways that CT either does not, or at least does far less so […] comparison studies reveal REBT to be as effective as other CBTs, and there is little evidence that REBT is superior to other CBTs despite clear evidence that REBT is superior to placebo or no treatment controls.

 

Thus, while CT and REBT approach problems is similar and different ways, both of these CBT approaches are reportedly appropriate options for mental health care. Nevertheless, REBT uses a philosophical approach to mental health and it’s my hope that the current blogpost clarifies how this is accomplished.

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


 

References:

 

AEI. (n.d.). About Albert Ellis, Ph.D. Albert Ellis Institute. Retrieved from https://albertellis.org/about-albert-ellis-phd/

Halasz, G. (2004, December). In conversation with Dr Albert Ellis. Australian Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227984238_In_Conversation_with_Dr_Albert_Ellis

Hollings, D. (2024, May 5). Belief in knowing. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/belief-in-knowing

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Hollings, D. (2024, April 15). Completing the puzzle. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/completing-the-puzzle

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/demandingness

Hollings, D. (2022, October 5). Description vs. prescription. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/description-vs-prescription

Hollings, D. (2022, May 28). Desire and disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/desire-and-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2024, April 26). Eudaimonia. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/eudaimonia

Hollings, D. (2024, April 21). Existentialism. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/existentialism

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

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Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

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Hollings, D. (2023, October 2). Morals and ethics. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/morals-and-ethics

Hollings, D. (2024, April 22). On disputing. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-disputing

Hollings, D. (2023, September 3). On feelings. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-feelings

Hollings, D. (2023, March 20). Practice. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/practice

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Hollings, D. (2024, January 4). Rigid vs. rigorous. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rigid-vs-rigorous

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2024, April 21). Sensation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/sensation

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/should-must-and-ought

Hollings, D. (2024, April 9). Shoulding at the supermarket. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/shoulding-at-the-supermarket

Hollings, D. (2024, April 21). Stoicism. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/stoicism

Hollings, D. (2024, January 8). Suspicion vs. belief. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/suspicion-vs-belief

Hollings, D. (2023, October 17). Syllogism. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/syllogism

Hollings, D. (2022, November 9). The ABC model. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-abc-model

Hollings, D. (2023, September 6). The absence of suffering. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-absence-of-suffering

Hollings, D. (2022, December 23). The A-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-a-c-connection

Hollings, D. (2022, December 25). The B-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-b-c-connection

Hollings, D. (2022, November 2). The formula. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-formula

Hollings, D. (2022, November 15). To don a hat. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/to-don-a-hat

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, March 11). Unconditional life-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-life-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, February 25). Unconditional other-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-other-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, March 1). Unconditional self-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-self-acceptance

McGinn, L. K. (1996). Interview: Albert Ellis on rational emotive behavior therapy. National Academy of Psychotherapy. Retrieved from https://psychotherapy.psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.1997.51.3.309

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Aaron Beck. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_T._Beck

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Young, P. and Turner, M. J. (2023, June 15). To (i)B or not to i(B), that is the question: on the differences between Ellis’ REBT and Beck’s CT. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-cognitive-behaviour-therapist/article/to-ib-or-not-to-ib-that-is-the-question-on-the-differences-between-ellis-rebt-and-becks-ct/D793C1A15057D977BE2B05EA5D1CD8B5

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