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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings



Fellow military police (MP) buddies “D” and “Tooth” introduced me to the music of Daft Punk when I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan in 1997. Although I had familiarity with other forms of electronic dance music (EDM), I didn’t know anything about French house music.


Listening to the duo’s 1997 album Homework wasn’t like my experience with Chicago or Acid house music. This isn’t to suggest that I didn’t like the house styles with which I was familiar. However, French house reminded me of my childhood connection with soul music.


Homework became my favorite EDM album from my time in Okinawa, as I’d listen to it before and after my MP shifts. As running on base with headphones wasn’t permitted, I’d also listen to the album immediately before nightly runs and imagine each track guiding my pace as I ran.


In fact, I studied each tune and committed the information to memory so that I could properly mix Daft Punk’s music into mixes I would one day make for other MPs. I knew when beats would break, how long each track lasted, and when new sound effects would be inserted.


I could also close my eyes when beginning the CD and know when a 16-count beat sequence would transition for each track. Now, I use a similar approach when teaching clients about the practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).


This psychotherapeutic modality isn’t particularly difficult to learn, because there are essentially two major components: the ABC model and unconditional acceptance. Once clients have understanding of and belief in the method, they need to routinely practice REBT techniques.


This is done inside and outside of session. Much like when memorizing Homework so that I could employ the use of knowledge for mix CDs, I practice REBT with clients in sessions to assess their level of competence with the modality.


Together, clients and I then negotiate homework so that they can practically apply the use of knowledge in their daily lives. Although homework in an educational setting is assigned (dictated), I negotiate (collaborate) with clients regarding the work to which they’ll commit.


To illustrate the distinction between assigning and negotiating, I invite you to think of when you were in school. I can’t speak for you, though I know there were moments when I didn’t complete homework assignments.


I wasn’t motivated to perform monotonous memorization routines so that I could receive a desired grade. This wasn’t because I had oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder.


Rather, I didn’t see the utility of completing dictated homework that likely wouldn’t impact my life in any meaningful way. To this day, I’ve yet to use the Pythagorean Theorem when at the grocery store, at a gas pump, or in any other manner.


Therefore, assigning homework isn’t as beneficial as negotiating client homework. When people have an opportunity to express how they want to work on their interests and goals, they’re more likely to have buy-in (commitment) for a means to an end – in this case, homework for success.


For instance, I carefully studied Homework, because I thoroughly enjoyed the album and wanted to one day incorporate it into mixes. Although enjoyment isn’t a crucial component to REBT homework – and in fact may hamper some negotiated tasks – commitment to the process is necessary.


Ultimately, homework is designed to help clients achieve success with the process of psychotherapy. Even though I negotiate homework with clients, REBT literature often refers to work done outside of session as “assignments.” 


According to one source, “A major component of REBT & CBT [cognitive behavior therapy] therapies is the use of homework assignments. Research supports the conclusion that homework enhances therapy outcomes. Homework may be cognitive, behavioral, or emotional in nature.”


An example of a challenging homework task that may not be enjoyable, though which offers a client the ability to practice skills learned in a session, relates to a shame attacking exercise. Suppose that client X has been asked to deliver a speech for a special occasion.


Using the ABC model, client X understands that the Activating event of public speaking isn’t what leads to an unpleasant Consequence such as anxiousness. Rather, what client X tells herself about the event (Belief) is what causes this reaction (Consequence).


For instance, if she unproductively concludes, “I shouldn’t make a fool of myself when delivering a speech, because I couldn’t stand to be thought of as stupid” (Belief), not only will this unfavorable assumption produce anxiousness, the anticipated reaction to her speech produces shame (Consequence).


Roleplay within session may be of some use, though with a strong therapeutic alliance client X doesn’t disturb herself enough to make much of a difference in her beliefs. After all, she’s comfortable enough to discuss intimate details of her life, so speaking in front of me isn’t as impactful as speaking in public.


Therefore, and perhaps reluctantly, client X agrees to go to her local mall and present the speech in the middle of a food court. This shame attacking homework task could have a similar effect as speaking in front of people at a special occasion.


Noteworthy, one source expresses of homework, “Strive to practice, practice, and practice some more REBT attitudes every day. Homework is the most important ingredient to therapeutic success.”


Just like Homework was the most important EDM album to me when stationed in Okinawa, homework is the most crucial component for success with REBT. Practice, practice, practice!


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, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As the world’s original EDM-influenced REBT psychotherapist—promoting content related to EDM, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues 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



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