top of page
  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

REBT and Emotions

 

When practicing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I occasionally encounter criticism about the perceived promotion of emotionlessness regarding this psychotherapeutic modality. It’s as though some people forget that this model is called rational EMOTIVE behavior therapy.

 

Rather than cultivating detachment from emotions (i.e., joy, fear, anger, sorrow, disgust, surprise, etc.), REBT theory acknowledges that feelings (emotions and bodily sensations) are consequences of beliefs. However, not all consequences are bad, wrong, or unpleasant.

 

Take for instance the consequence of a helpful belief. Suppose I believe that I can tolerate distress when experiencing an unpleasant event. Rather than self-disturbing with unhelpful assumptions about the matter, the consequence of my adaptive belief may result in tenacity.

 

In this way, the objective of practice with the ABC model isn’t to create emotionless people though to ameliorate beliefs from unhelpful to helpful. Once people are able to adjust their beliefs, so, too, may their emotions shift from unpleasant to pleasant – or at least tolerable.

 

Regarding this matter, page 82 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion (“Pocket Companion”) invites REBT practitioners to assist clients with understanding that REBT doesn’t neglect emotions, because emotions can take a center-stage in the psychotherapeutic process.

 

As an example, if client X presents with self-disturbed unhealthy anger, I wouldn’t dispute this consequential emotion. Likewise, I wouldn’t challenge the activating event that correlates with the anger.

 

Instead, I would center the anger and assess the belief that caused it. Regarding this matter, page 83 of the Pocket Companion encourages REBT practitioners to help clients identify disturbed feelings (e.g., unhealthy anger) though not to encourage clients to compulsively discuss such feelings.

 

This is because obsessing over the product of unfavorable beliefs isn’t as helpful as targeting the assumptions which produce self-disturbed feelings. As well, page 84 of the Pocket Companion invites REBT practitioners to encourage clients to use precision about disturbed emotions.

 

Doing so affords people the opportunity to distinguish between activating events and beliefs. Once individuals understand that events don’t cause consequences, though clients comprehend that irrational beliefs lead to unproductive anger for people like client X, they can then take personal ownership regarding the source of their problems.

 

Additionally, page 85 of the Pocket Companion reminds REBT practitioners to help clients understand eight self-disturbed emotions relating to “anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, hurt, unhealthy anger, unhealthy jealousy, and unhealthy envy.” Although an unpopular opinion in some circles of mental health care, not all anger, jealousy, or envy is unhealthy.

 

For instance, when I observe bigoted diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) initiatives which impact the employability of white men, my beliefs about these policies result in healthy anger. After all, I don’t like seeing people being mistreated.

 

However, my beliefs about DEIA aren’t unhealthy. Therefore, I’m not self-disturbed into unhealthy anger. As such, I constructively write blog entries denouncing DEIA rather than angrily lashing out at others about this matter.

 

In this way, REBT practice acknowledges and centers emotions. With the distinctions outlined herein, I hope to have made a case for how Stoicism incorporated into REBT doesn’t aim to create emotionless automatons. Rather, this modality is used to alleviate disturbed feelings.

 

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:

 

Dontsov, M. (2024, March 14). Stitched face by moebius by Jeremy Geddes [Image]. Playground. Retrieved from https://playground.com/post/stitched-faceby-moebius-by-jeremy-geddes--cltqt66x10cf1s601m6mvntp9

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

Hollings, D. (2023, May 11). Catering to DEIA. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/catering-to-deia

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. (2024, February 13). Focus on the target problem. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/focus-on-the-target-problem

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

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

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, May 28). Stoically existential. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/stoically-existential

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

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

Recent Posts

See All

Goals

Comments


bottom of page