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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Demystifying REBT


 

When treating or managing client symptoms of mental illness or disorders, I aim to demystify the practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) by making deeper theoretical information clearer and easier to understand. This occurs at the beginning and throughout the course of my clinical work with clients.

 

After all, understanding of, belief in, and practice of REBT is what I’ve found most often leads to success. As such, this process begins with comprehension of the ABC model and unconditional acceptance.

 

Regarding page 71 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion (“Pocket Companion”), REBT practitioners are encouraged to explain REBT terms to clients and to assess for understanding of these concepts. Not only do I practice in this manner with my clients, I also aim to foster understanding within my blogposts.

 

For instance, in a blog entry entitled Not a Feeling, I differentiated between how feelings-based language is used in common parlance versus how it’s used within the practice of REBT. Understanding the distinction between a feeling and a belief is an important element of the ABC model.

 

Although page 72 of the Pocket Companion advocates client use or perhaps misuse of REBT terminology—if such application of terms affords a person to practice REBT regardless of specific terminology, though I disagree with this suggestion. Allow me to explain.

 

Suppose client X insists on stating something like, “I feel that when my partner doesn’t value my input, I’m less inclined to participate in the relationship.” If one were to merely pretend as though the words we use don’t actually matter, what is the point of using language to address how one’s inner-dialogue is problematic?

 

Circular logic of this sort mystifies the process of REBT, not clarifies it. Therefore, I’d invite client X to consider proper terminology which would include rephrasing such as, “I believe that when my partner doesn’t value my input, I’m less inclined to participate in the relationship.”

 

While some people may perceive this distinction as somewhat pedantic, it isn’t. I assert this, because many people report to me that they’ve been told no one can invalidate their feelings.

 

It’s true that I can’t tell client X if the person is hot, cold, angry, or sad. These feelings—bodily sensations and emotions—cannot be invalidated by my attempts to dispute them.

 

However, clarifying terminology so client X understands that beliefs aren’t synonymous with feelings affords an opportunity for personal responsibility and accountability when disputing one’s self-disturbing beliefs. I can’t dispute feelings, though I can challenge assumptions.

 

Keeping with the promotion of clarify in REBT, page 73 of the Pocket Companion invites REBT practitioners to ensure the use of belief-consequence (B-C) language rather than action-consequence (A-C) terminology. This is something I address with clients, as well as within my blog.

 

Page 74 of the Pocket Companion encourages REBT practitioners to correct clients when they use A-C rather than B-C language, though not to do so compulsively. If client X insists on using A-C terminology, I may then use irreverent communication to highlight the logical conclusion of such insistence.

 

As an example, suppose that if client X states, “So, when my partner doesn’t listen to me, I just tune everything out,” this is an A-C description of events. Client X’s partner doesn’t listen (action) and client X assumes this causes the reaction of ignoring everything (consequence).

 

I may respond, “Oh, that’s fantastic! I’m going to show you how you’re A-C language isn’t effective. I think I’ll try your approach with you when you continue insisting on implausible A-C connections!” The purpose of my response would be to demonstrate to client X how absurd it is to inflexibly cling to self-disturbing A-C connections.

 

Regarding this technique, page 75 of the Pocket Companion advocates explaining interventions to clients, expressing the purpose of these techniques, and soliciting feedback from clients concerning whether or not these interventions are helpful. Client X’s response would then inform me about how to proceed from that point.

 

Ultimately, everything discussed herein is with a focus on demystifying REBT. After all, it’s ethical to demonstrate to clients how this psychotherapeutic practice works so that they may one day become their own therapists.

 

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:

 

Dryden, W. and Neenan, M. (2003). The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion. Albert Ellis Institute. ISBN 0-917476-26-3. Library of Congress Control Number: 20031044378

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

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Blog – Categories: Disputation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/blog/categories/disputation

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

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2023, October 15). I’m my own mechanic. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/i-m-my-own-mechanic

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

Hollings, D. (2023, January 8). Logic and reason. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/logic-and-reason

Hollings, D. (2024, March 1). Not a feeling. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/not-a-feeling

Hollings, D. (2022, November 7). Personal ownership. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/personal-ownership

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

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

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

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

Hollings, D. (2024, January 16). Understanding, belief, and practice. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/understanding-belief-and-practice

Hollings, D. (2023, November 23). Validation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/validation

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