Psychology - Cognitive approach - Rational emotive therapy

  • Created by: jkav
  • Created on: 31-01-15 16:17

Rational emotive therapy (RET)

In the 1950's, Albert Ellis was one of the first psychologists to develop a form of CBT. He first called it 'rational therapy' to emphasise the fact that he saw it, psychological problems occur as a result of irrational thinking - individuals frequently develop self - deafeating habits because of faulty beliefs about themselves and the world around them. The aim of therapy is to turn these irrational thoughts into rational ones, therefire it was first called 'rational therapy'. Rational beliefs are flexible, realistisic and undermanding.

Ellis renamed his therapy 'rational emotive therapy' (RET) because the therapy focuses on resolving emotional problems, and, even later, he renamed it 'rational emotional behaviour therapy' (REBT) because the therapy also resolves behavioural problems.

Mustabatory thinking

The source off irrational beliefs lies in mustabatory thinking - thinking that certain ideas or assumptions must be true in order for an individual to be happy. Ellis identified the three most important irrational beliefs.

  • I must be approved of or accepted by people I find important.
  • I must do well or very well, or I am worthless.
  • The world must give me happiness, or I will die.

Other irrational assumptions include:

  • Others must treat me fairly and give me what I need, or they are absolutely rotten.
  • People must live up to my expectations or it is terrible!

An individual who holds such assumptions is bound to be, at the very least, disappointed; at worst, depressed. An individual who fails an exam becomes depressed not because they have failed the exam but because they hold an irrational belief regarding the failure (e.g. 'if I fail people will think I'm stupid'). Such 'musts' need to be challenged in order for mental healthiness to prevail.

The ABC model

Ellis (1957) proposed that the way to deal with irrational thoughts was to identify them using the ABC model. (A) stands for the activating event - a situation…


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