Rational Emotive Therapy is coined by Albert Ellis a clinical psychologist from New York. When he first started practicing, more than thirty years ago, his style was very different from the style of his psychoanalytic colleagues. Like Beck, Ellis focused on the systematic beliefs that make people feel unhappy, anxious, and miserable. Unlike Beck, he aggressively challenged clients about these beliefs. If Carla visited Ellis and said to him, “B’s aren’t good enough. I have to get A’s,” Ellis might actually yell at her: “So B’s aren’t good enough? You have to be perfect? Why? Why are you making yourself crazy by thinking you have to be perfect? Shoulds! Musts! Don’t you know the first commandment? Thou shalt not ‘should’ on thyself!”
Ellis might point out that Carla’s belief that she should be perfect is completely irrational. She might want to do better in school, but that is different from believing she must do better in school.No theory of psychotherapy is stronger in its insistence that maladaptive thoughts are at the root of many psychological disorders than rational-emotive therapy. The essence of rational-emotive therapy is its ABC model of maladaprive behavior.
According to the ABC model, not activating events (A) but belief (B) about activating events lead to emotional distress or bad behavioral consequences (C) (Dryden & Ellis, 1988; Haaga & Davison, 1991). In Carla’s case, the distribution of a final exam might be the activating event (A). Carla might experience panic as a consequence (C) and perform poorly on the exam, not because of the activating event but because of her irrational beliefs (B) about tests—beliefs such as “l know I am going to fail” or “l didn’t study gh” or “The teacher is out to get me.” enou Ellis believes that most irrational beliefs derive from a few basic assumptions that people wrongly make.
- I must do extremely well and win approval or else I am a rotten person.
- Others must treat me considerately and kindly and precisely the way I want them to treat me.
- The conditions in which I live must be arranged so that I get everything I want in life, quickly and easily, and I don’t get anything I don’t want.
- I must be loved and admired by everyone who comes in contact with me.
Rational-emotive therapists attempt to change patients’ thinking through logic, persuasion, occasional lecturing, and prescribing specific activities. For example, the therapist might suggest that a shy woman ride a New York subway from one end Of the line to the other, calling off each stop at the top of her lungs: “42nd Street next, 42nd Street. 53rd Street next, all out for 53rd Street.” The point Of such an exercise is to replace an irrational belief (that horrible things happen to people who assert themselves) with a more realistic belief.
The shy woman would learn that behavior as unusual as screaming on a crowded subway car is unlikely to produce awful consequences. Psychoanalytic and client-centered therapists are relatively non-directive, in the interests of helping patients find their own way; rational-emotive therapists, in contrast, are highly directive, often telling the client what to think and do in order to get better.build warm, caring relationships with their clients.
This objection rests on the assumption that such a relationship is crucial to successful therapy. But rational- emotive therapists have a very different view: they believe that an overly warm and caring therapist reinforces the client’s desire to be loved by everyone an irrational belief that is often the root of the client’s problems in the first place. ln stead, rational-emotive therapists work actively to persuade clients that rational analysis of problems is useful to identify irrational beliefs, to teach clients how to dispute irrational beliefs, and to help clients pursue this process on their own without a therapist.