Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy AO1/AO2 - Frozen style!

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Hi everyone! If you've seen my resource on SD - hello again! If you haven't - check it out! Basically, to help you remember rational-emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) for phobic disorders, I'm using Frozen's Elsa as a case study. Really, since her phobia of losing control of her powers is so reliant on her faulty thinking, I think REBT is the best type of therapy for her. So let's get cracking!


First things first - don't be fooled by that name. REBT is actually based on cognitive principles. We need to run through these first - so try and stay with me!

First up we have the cognitive biases, which demonstrate the irrational thinking patterns of the phobic patient. They are:

  • Minimisation of successes: under-appreciating your own achievements. For example, if Elsa went a whole day without letting her powers go, she might minimise her success by thinking something like Yes, but just think of all those days when you DID let them go. One day isn't going to change that.
  • Maximisation of failures: over-exaggerating any time you do something wrong. Let's say Elsa touches a door handle and accidentally freezes it. She might think This is awful! I'm a failure!This is the worst thing ever!
  • Catastrophisation: always jumping to the worst case scenario. So if Elsa were to cause her sister Anna to slip and fall on ice, she might think She'll get a concussion and die now.

Next up we have the Cognitive Triad - a nasty little bunch of beliefs that show how negative thought patterns can run out of control. They are:

  • Negative beliefs about self: e.g. Elsa constantly believing that she is a monster.
  • Negative beliefs about the world: e.g. Elsa's belief that people will turn on her if she ever reveals her power to the world.
  • Negative beliefs about others: e.g. Elsa may believe that Anna hates her after years of isolation (of course, as the movie shows, this couldn't be further from the truth!)

Then we have the ABC model, which shows exactly how phobic minds work. Observe:

  • A = Activating event. Something that triggers the fear response, e.g. Elsa having to make her first public appearance for years at her coronation. This then leads to...
  • B = Beliefs about activating event. These are the thoughts that run through the patient's mind in these situations. E.g, Elsa's fear that she is going to expose her powers, and the irrational belief that the kingdom will turn on her.
  • C = Consequences. This is how those beliefs are acted out. In Elsa's case, she worried so much about exposing her powers that that's exactly what she ends up doing, leading her to panic, flee the kingdom and bring eternal winter upon the land. D'oh.

Here, at last, is where REBT comes in. This helps the patient to understand their irrationality and the consequences of thinking in this way. REBT then helps them to substitute these thoughts with more effective problem solving methods. Brilliant!


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