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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Increasing Proficiency with Disputation


 

Does it ever seem as though your thoughts are bursting out of your head? How about this; do your beliefs about situations which you experience ever lead to discomfort? If your answers to these questions are in the affirmative, perhaps the current blogpost may help.

 

I’m a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) practitioner and I work with clients who are often overwhelmed by their thoughts and beliefs about events experienced in life. Rather than helping people feel better about displeasing occurrences, I aim to help individuals get better so that my clients can tolerate and accept their perception of such events.

 

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.

 

Therefore, 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 well, the ABC model incorporates Disputation of unhelpful assumptions in order to explore Effective new beliefs. 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.

 

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of REBT is the disputation of irrational beliefs. Therefore, I aim to help clients increase their proficiency with this invaluable technique.

 

Regarding this matter, page 140 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion (“Pocket Companion”) encourages REBT practitioners to help clients construct rational alternatives to their irrational beliefs. Here, “rational” refers to that which is in accordance with logic and reason.

 

Although it may be helpful to sometimes use a didactic approach (psychoeducational instruction), it’s also productive to have clients use their own description of rational alternative beliefs. Thus, I often encourage clients to present their own logical and reasonable ideas rather than merely telling them how they should, must, or ought to think.

 

Additionally, page 141 of the Pocket Companion instructs REBT practitioners to assist clients with understanding a full range of rational beliefs. For instance, rather than rigidly telling oneself, “I must succeed,” an individual may instead choose to flexible say, “I’d like to succeed, though I don’t have to do so.”

 

Although this is a mild cognitive reframe to the initial self-disturbing assumption, the explosion of unhelpful thoughts and beliefs people tend to use can be contained by narrowing down the range of mental processes through use of rational filtration. Thus, helpful alternatives may better serve one’s interests and goals than use of chaotic thoughts and beliefs.

 

As well, page 142 of the Pocket Companion invites REBT practitioners to help clients understand that just as they use a B-C connection to self-disturb; other people are also using similar connections. Therefore, understanding that each of us is fallible may help a client to surrender their own irrational demands regarding other people.

 

Likewise, page 143 of the Pocket Companion encourages REBT practitioners to teach clients how to dispute their own unhelpful beliefs in a similar manner as practitioners perform this technique in sessions. Otherwise, clients may become reliant on a psychotherapist while not learning how to challenge unproductive thoughts and beliefs which explode within the mind.

 

Page 144 of the Pocket Companion instructs REBT practitioners to teach clients the principle of “overlearning” so that clients can become more proficient with disputation in their own environments. Regarding this matter, one source states:

 

The principle of overlearning states that if you go over an idea many times, even more frequently than is perhaps necessary, then you are more likely to retain what you are learning. Thus, encourage your clients to challenge their core irrational belief repeatedly, either by using a single proven dispute or by using different types of disputes. Explain to them that the more they are able to do this, the more they will learn how to dispute their beliefs and the more they will remember the outcome of their disputes.

 

In order to keep psychotherapy interesting enough for client buy-in (acceptance of and willingness to actively support and participate in REBT), I use a range of disputes. After repeatedly performing this sort of practice, clients are then able to overlearn helpful techniques.

 

Importantly, page 145 of the Pocket Companion reminds REBT practitioners to strongly encourage clients to dispute their irrational beliefs both inside and outside of sessions. This is because some clients will readily do so when working with a practitioner though neglect to do so on their own time.

 

Regarding this matter, I stated in a blogpost entitled Understanding, Belief, and Practice, “I suspect that a lack of understanding, failure to believe, and neglect of practice have played a key role in why some people have neglected or abandoned REBT altogether.” Thus, dedicated practice outside of session is necessary to increase proficiency with disputation.

 

Page 146 of the Pocket Companion invites REBT practitioners to teach clients the value of challenging should, must, and ought-type beliefs, and to act on healthy preferences. Using the example of believing that one “must succeed” versus flexibly maintaining that one would “like to succeed,” an individual may then behave in a manner that is conducive to the latter belief.

 

Clarifying this matter, page 147 of the Pocket Companion discusses how some clients behave in an inconsistent manner with the development of rational beliefs. As an example, although one accepts that liking to succeed is preferable to unhelpfully demanding that one must succeed, an individual may nevertheless demand perfection through unproductive actions.

 

For instance, a client may admit that flexibility with taking an exam is better aligned with one’s interests and goals, though the individual may spend the entire night studying in pursuit of perfection. Counterproductively, behavior which deprives one of sleep may result in reduced performance.

 

Therefore, increasing proficiency with disputation may require mental, emotional, and behavioral commitment to the practice of REBT. Although I may help clients to understand and believe in REBT, their dedicated use of this modality is necessary for success.

 

Helpfully, page 148 of the Pocket Companion invites REBT practitioners to discover client role models of rationality and to refer to these individuals when disputing irrational beliefs. As an example, a client may favor a fictional attorney from a streaming series.

 

In this case, I’d refer to the hotshot lawyer when advocating that my client become a similar mental defense attorney. As such, the client can act as if the individual is disputing irrational beliefs which would otherwise condemn a person to the anguish of emotional confinement.

 

As though the authors of the Pocket Companion were speaking directly to me, page 149 reminds REBT practitioners that if clients (or perhaps even I) are to use REBT with other people, suggest that they guard against imposing rational principles on those who aren’t interested in them. (Message received.)

 

Although it may seem as though your thoughts are bursting out of your head, or if your beliefs about situations which you experience lead to discomfort, there’s likely a B-C and not an A-C connection taking place. In essence, you’ve disturbed yourself with unfavorable beliefs.

 

Still, you have the ability to reduce self-imposed suffering through the process of disputing irrational beliefs. Herein, I’ve provided information for increasing proficiency with disputation. If you’d like to know more about how the practice of REBT may better serve you, I’m here to help.

 

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. (2006). Rational emotive behaviour therapy: 100 key points and techniques. Routledge. Retrieved from https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/4b0e2552-2a18-4998-b44f-3a993148f7ac/downloads/REBT%202.pdf?ver=1627365797554

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, September 21). Acting as if. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/acting-as-if

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

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

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

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. (2022, November 4). Human fallibility. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/human-fallibility

Hollings, D. (2024, January 2). Interests and goals. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/interests-and-goals

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

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

Hollings, D. (2023, January 6). Mental defense attorney. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/mental-defense-attorney

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

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

Hollings, D. (2024, January 1). Psychoeducation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/psychoeducation

Hollings, D. (2023, September 15). Psychotherapeutic modalities. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/psychotherapeutic-modalities

Hollings, D. (2024, May 5). Psychotherapist. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/psychotherapist

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. (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. (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. (2023, February 16). Tna. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/tna

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

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

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