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What Is The Main Goal Of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy?

What is the main goal of rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT)? This is a question that many people have asked over the years. Developed by Albert Ellis in the 1950s, REBT is one of many forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. Also known as rational-emotive therapy, rational-emotive behavior therapy is widely used to help people control negative thought patterns and manage mental health problems by identifying irrational and rational beliefs.

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This blog post will discuss what rational-emotive behavior therapy is and what its main goal is. It will also look into a brief history of the therapy and how it was developed. Continue reading to find more details on rational-emotive therapy, its components, and what it is used for.

What Is The Main Goal Of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy?
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What Is Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy Or REBT?

Rational-emotive behavior therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that deals with irrational and rational beliefs. Through this type of cognitive-behavioral therapy, the therapist helps patients identify and challenge their irrational thinking and transform negative thought patterns into rational beliefs.

Rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is based on the idea that individuals control their lives and emotions. People hold rational and irrational beliefs, influencing their thoughts and behaviors. These beliefs lead to either positive or negative feelings, emotions, and actions.

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Irrational beliefs often result in negative outcomes, contributing to mental health issues and physical health problems. Conversely, rational beliefs have positive effects on individuals’ lives. They enable people to objectively view people, situations, and events, leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Who Developed Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Rational Psychotherapy And Individual Psychology” by Albert Ellis was first published in 1957; the book outlined the beginnings of the theory of rational therapy.

The REBT theory is based on the idea that people control their thoughts and beliefs. In line with this, people can change their irrational beliefs into rational ones. This change will help people manage negative actions, addictive conduct, and maladaptive behaviors. The book is historical in behavioral therapy because it has become the foundation of modern REBT techniques used in treatment centers today.

Although Ellis’s concept of changing irrational beliefs is not new, he was the first to develop and describe scientifically validatable paradigms. During that period, Ellis was recognized as an important contributor to establishing cognitive re-emergence in the clinical psyche due to the development of rational-emotive behavior therapy.

Rational-emotive behavior therapy differed from other mainstream therapies of the era mostly due to the importance of discussing and adapting clients’ thoughts, be they irrational beliefs or rational beliefs. Ellis’ research suggests the idea that how a person thinks differently affects how they feel. This theory had never been popularly believed before Ellis started experimenting with rational therapy.

Who Is Albert Ellis?

Albert Ellis was trained as a psychoanalytic physiologist but soon began to feel that psychoanalytic treatments were not working well for him. He said that although the approach revealed a few mental health problems the patients had, they could no longer change their reaction to the problems they had.

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In the late 1950s, Ellis started experimenting with a therapeutic system to address physical and mental health. Numerous factors shaped his actions. First, his interest in philosophy was crucial in his life. Albert Ellis was significantly influenced by Epictetus, who emphasized that people often have perspectives that differ from reality.

Secondly, Freud’s psychoanalysis led him to conclude that irrational thinking was at the root of psychological issues. Lastly, he was also swayed by Skinner’s operant conditioning, which demonstrated how individuals acquire behaviors through their surroundings.

What Is The Main Goal Of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Rational-emotive behavior therapy helps people identify and challenge their irrational thoughts, which can lead to negative emotions and behaviors. So, what is the main goal of rational-emotive behavior therapy? It is to help people change their irrational beliefs so they can live more positive lives. People can learn coping techniques to deal with difficult situations by replacing these thoughts with rational beliefs.

Rational-emotive behavior therapy can help individuals address emotional or behavioral issues. REBT will help change how they think about themselves, their world, and their interactions with others.

Ideally, rational-emotive behavior therapy will reinforce rational beliefs or desirable behaviors and remove irrational beliefs or unwelcome behaviors. This will lead to an individual’s unconditional self-acceptance and a more positive outlook in life.

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What Are The 3 Main Beliefs Of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Rational-emotive behavior therapy focuses on irrational and rational beliefs. Albert Ellis stated that irrational beliefs can lead to negative emotions consuming a person’s life. A person can develop emotional or behavioral issues without control over irrational beliefs. This being said, the three main beliefs of rational-emotive behavior therapy are the following:

  1. People are responsible for their behavioral responses, including rational and irrational beliefs.
  2. People can change their thoughts and emotions: irrational beliefs can become rational and vice versa.
  3. People should always do their best to be happy: living a productive life can lead to unconditional self-acceptance.

These beliefs help individuals take control of their lives and understand that they can change how they think and feel. Eliminating irrational beliefs and negative emotions is the key to happiness and productivity.

What Are The 3 Musts Of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy?

The three “musts” of rational-emotive behavior therapy are the most common irrational beliefs that an individual can have. These three “musts” revolve around a high level of expectation from the self, from the people around you, and the environment or society.

The following are the three musts.

  • I MUST excel in everything I do to be deemed as worthy.
  • I MUST always be treated the same way as I treat others.
  • I MUST be entitled to anything and everything that I want.

These three “musts” center on one’s beliefs or irrational thoughts surrounding the self. Irrational beliefs lead to behavioral consequences such as acting out or feeling negative emotions. If a person does not take steps to correct these irrational beliefs, it can lead to a perpetual feeling of anger, shame, guilt, self-pity, and other negative emotions.

What Are The 3 Main Insights Of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Rational-emotive behavior therapy focuses on identifying and changing irrational beliefs and turning them into positive ones. Although all individuals hold irrational beliefs to some extent, Albert Ellis’ cognitive behavioral therapy suggests that people develop three insights that can decrease the tendencies behind irrational thinking.

Only through understanding and using all three insights is a person convinced of their need to challenge their irrational beliefs. Accordingly, those who have not changed their irrational beliefs will not experience any beneficial emotional, behavioral, or cognitive outcomes.

Irrational beliefs lead to behavioral consequences. Ultimately, psychological well-being means accepting oneself as well as others. This is achieved through reducing irrational beliefs and focusing on rational ones.

1. Irrational Beliefs Cause An Emotional Response

Individuals need to accept that when they feel negative emotions about a certain event, their irrational beliefs also play a part in negative emotions. Individuals can perceive a situation in a certain way, but this perception is subjective and may not be based on facts. Thus, irrational beliefs can lead to a negative perception of a certain place, person, or event.

2. Holding Onto Irrational Beliefs Will Cause Negative Behaviors

Rational-emotive behavior therapy stresses that irrational beliefs lead to negative symptoms that can affect an individual’s mental health. Holding onto irrational beliefs will only lead to feeling negative emotions that can cause negative behaviors such as lashing out or becoming a threat to others. These emotions will also cause unnecessary stress to a person’s mental and physical well-being.

3. Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy Is Not A Cure But Is A Guide To Help Individuals Change Irrational Beliefs Into Rational Ones

Although these insights will help an individual challenge his irrational beliefs, Albert Ellis said it is not a cure. The key to ridding yourself of irrational thinking and improving your mental health is accomplished by constantly recognizing irrational thoughts. Upon recognition, you must find a way to turn your core beliefs, which are irrational, into rational sentiments.

The ABCs Of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy

At the core of this cognitive behavioral therapy is an ABC model. The ABCs of rational-emotive therapy state that an individual’s irrational thoughts about a certain activating event are the causes of dysfunctional behaviors or reactions to said event. Among the elements in the ABC model is the formation and result of an irrational belief system.

This CBT theory states that instead of recognizing irrational thoughts, the individual prefers to blame the activating event as the outright cause of their negative emotions. The ABC model is often used in cognitive-behavioral interventions focusing on changing irrational thoughts and improving emotional well-being.

A: Activating Event

An activating event is any situation that triggers an emotional response. An activating event can be due to a person, place, or experience. For example, the activating event is an acquaintance’s wedding that you are not invited to, leading to negative feelings of anger or jealousy.

B: Belief System

An individual’s belief system dictates how they will react to the activating event. The irrational thoughts that are part of the belief system will often lead to negative emotions and dysfunctional conduct. The beliefs you hold inside influence how you respond to what’s happening around you. For instance, in the scenario mentioned earlier, feeling upset or jealous about not obtaining an invite to a family member’s wedding may stem from believing that you are loved by everyone, even if you’ve only met them briefly.

C: Consequence

The consequence of an individual’s behavior is a result of their irrational beliefs toward an activating event and can be either positive or negative. The effects of irrational beliefs are the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive outcomes of holding onto these thoughts.

The consequences can be damaging to an individual’s mental health and well-being. Following the given example of the activating event and belief system, a consequence can be that you will resort to destructive behaviors such as getting drunk or lashing out at people close to you just to cope with not being invited.

What is Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy Used For?

Rational-emotive behavior therapy, much like cognitive-behavioral therapy, is a versatile approach used to tackle various mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, anger issues, eating disorders, and addiction. It also equips individuals with coping skills to effectively handle stress and life changes.

In this type of therapy, individuals learn to reshape their thoughts and behaviors.

By transforming irrational beliefs into rational ones, they cultivate unconditional self-acceptance with the guidance of a clinical psychologist. Sessions revolve around identifying and addressing irrational and rational beliefs, aiming to challenge negative thought patterns, foster positive thinking, and develop coping strategies for difficult situations.

It’s worth noting that rational-emotive behavior therapy extends beyond mental health treatment. It finds applications in diverse areas like substance abuse recovery, marriage counseling, and even sports psychology to enhance athletic performance.

The therapy typically follows a structured process involving three key steps: recognizing negative thought patterns, challenging them, and embracing rational thinking and reality.

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Is Rational-Emotive Behavioral Therapy Effective?

REBT has been found to be an effective form of treatment for many psychological issues. It can be done through individual counseling or group therapy. A study by the Academy Of Cognitive Therapy found that REBT was significantly more effective than a placebo in the treatment of different behaviors relating to generalized anxiety disorder.

REBT has also been shown to be an effective treatment for depression. A study by the University Of Ottawa found that REBT was more effective than cognitive therapy in the treatment of depression and management of suicidal thoughts.

In addition, REBT is one of the effective forms of treatment for anger management and controlling negative thought patterns. A study by the University Of Rhode Island found that REBT was more effective than rational-emotive therapy in the treatment of anger management.

REBT has also been shown to be an effective treatment for substance abuse and addiction.


Despite its recognition as a highly effective therapy, rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT) faces some dire criticism. Some feel it is too rigid or unyielding, making it difficult to adapt to different situations. This rigidity may also limit access to treatment for some individuals.

Another common critique is the notion that irrational thoughts or behaviors cannot cause harm. Critics argue that because these thoughts exist only in the mind, they cannot have physical effects. However, acting on irrational beliefs can lead to negative outcomes, demonstrating the real-world consequences of these thoughts.

What Is The Main Goal Of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Rational-emotive behavior therapy is a cognitive behavioral therapy that is highly effective in treating many psychological problems. It focuses on helping an individual identify negative thought patterns and beliefs to reach self-actualization that is grounded in reality.

What is the main goal of rational-emotive behavior therapy? It is to help individuals identify and change irrational beliefs, which will decrease negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Generally accepted as an effective form of therapy to help manage mental health conditions and psychological distress, it is also used to address issues relating to substance abuse, sports psychology, athletic performance, and more. Despite some criticism, the majority of research supports the use of rational-emotive behavior therapy for a wide range of psychological problems.


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