Albert Elis developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy in 1960. He was in view that irrational assumptions give rise to abnormal functioning and therapists help clients to discover the irrational assumptions that govern their emotional responses and to change those assumptions into constructive ways of viewing themselves and the world

Philosophy of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

According to this therapy emotional disturbance has several important emotive and behavioral sources. Although emotional disturbance or psychological disorders does not develop entirely from cognition or thinking, the etiology of unhealthy behaviors is heavily influenced by the process of an internal dialogue that is negatively affected by the individual’s irrational beliefs.

Basic Views of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

The rational-emotive view of personality is dominated by the principle that emotion and reason thinking and feeling are intricately and inextricably entwined in the psyche. Ellis points out “A human is primarily a responding or creative individual. He not only perceives external and internal stimuli but he thinks or conceptualizes them”
The person thinks about things, he or she distorts and generalizes according to preconceptions and misguided ideas.


Thinking and emoting are so closely interrelated that they usually accompany each other, act in a circular cause and effect relationship, and certain respects are essentially the same things so that one’s thinking becomes one’s thought. Since man is a language-creating animal, both thinking and emoting tending to take the form of self-talk or internalized sentences. It becomes the internal dialogue of the individual.

Irrational Thoughts:

The rational-emotive view of the person emphasizes that we are born with the potential to be rational and logical but become illogical and influenced by “crooked thinking” because of distortions.
“The central theme of REBT is that man is a uniquely rational as well as uniquely irrational animal, that his emotional or psychological disturbances are largely a result of his thinking illogically or irrationally.

Goals Of REBT:

The primary goals of REBT focus on helping people realize that they can live a more rational and productive life.

The ultimate goal of REBT is that clients become capable of analyzing and correcting their distortions of the world.

Minimizing the client’s central self-defeating outlook and acquiring a more realistic, tolerant philosophy of life.

Reducing clients anxiety ( self-blame ) and hostility (blaming others and the world)

Teaching clients a method of self-observation and self-assessment will ensure that this improvement continues.

To realize to the client that his or her self-talk is a primary source of emotional disturbance.

Help the client to restructure his or her internal sentences to eliminate the underlying irrational beliefs.

Techniques of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

The REBT therapeutic process is active, direct confronted, and based on the use of the logic empirical method of scientific questioning. During initial sessions, therapists confront their clients with evidence of their irrational thinking and behavior.


REBT consists of largely what we might call “teaching Techniques” but these techniques synthesize the cognitive and emotional facets of the client’s existence. In the first few sessions, therapists teach their clients the anatomy of an emotion; those feelings are a result of thoughts, not events, and self-talk influences emotions.


In REBT teaching the patient effective self-analysis is important so that he may learn, how to observe his feelings and actions, how to evaluate them objectively instead of moralistically, and how to change them. So that he may achieve the things he most wants to do in his life and simultaneously, not interfering with the preferences of others.


The real work of REBT involves the disputing of the client’s irrational beliefs. The therapist actively challenges the client’s existing belief system with the intent of eliminating the irrational beliefs and helping the clients to develop and internalize a set of more positive and rational beliefs. In therapy sessions, the illogical need to be loved by everyone at all times was consistently disputed. This strategy had a very positive effect.


Another form of cognitive disputation involves the use of syllogisms. “A deductive form of reasoning consisting of two premises and a conclusion”. It helps clients and therapists more thoroughly understand inductive and deductive fallacies that underlie emotions.

Imaginal Disputation:

It depends on the client’s ability to imagine and employs a technique as rational emotive imagery. This technique can be used in two ways. First, the therapist asks the client to imagine a situation where he or she is likely to become upset. The therapists examine the self-talk during the imagined situation.
Then the therapists ask the client to envision the same situation but this time to be more moderate in his or her self-talk. It may work with clients who have vivid imaginations and after some practice with those who do not.

ECC (emotional control card):

The emotional control card is a device that helps clients reinforce and expand the practice of REI. In a potentially troubling situation, a client may refer to the card and change the quality of feelings about the situation. Four categories (anger, self-criticism, anxiety, and depression) are listed on wallet-sized ECCs. Under each category is a list of inappropriate or self-destructive feelings and a parallel list of non-defeating feelings.

Behavioral Disputation:

It involves behaving in a way that is the opposite of the client’s usual way. Sometimes it may take the form of bibliotherapy, in which the client reads a self-help book. At other times, behavioral disputation includes role-playing and the completion of a homework assignment in which clients do all those activities which clients thought to be impossible.

Homework Assignments:

Homework assignments include activities that are harmless but dreaded. Such as introducing oneself to a stranger or asking for a glass of water in a restaurant. A client also learns that others are fallible human beings and need not be perfect.

Evaluation of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy:

The approach is clear, easily learned, and effective. Most clients have few problems in understanding the terminology of REBT. This therapy is effective in the treatment of anxiety disorders and adjustment disorders.
This approach can easily be combined with behavioral techniques to help clients more fully experience what they are learning.

Maultsby’s rational behavior therapy is a good example of this type of combination.
This therapy is relatively short-term, usually lasting 10-30 sessions. Clients may continue to use the approach on a self-help basis. It is economic and efficiency aspects are impressive.
REBT has generated a great deal of literature and research for clients and therapists. Few therapies were also developed as Biblio therapeutic material.

Limitations of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy:

This approach cannot be used effectively with individuals who have mental problems or limitations, such as schizophrenics and thought disorders. It is not produced with the mentally impaired patient.
REBT may be too closely associated with its founder, Albert Ellis.
Many individuals have difficulty separating the theory from Ellis’s eccentricities. Some therapists still eschew the approach because of its connection with Ellis.

Similar Topics


REBT therapy is structured to facilitate client’s recognition of their irrational beliefs and alter their interpersonal patterns of behavior so that they are based on more functional, logical beliefs. The accomplishments of this goal require an active and directive therapist who is at once supportive and at the same time can actively engage and challenge the client.