What is the main goal of rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT)? This is a question that has been asked by many people over the years. Developed by Albert Ellis in the 1950s, REBT is one of the cognitive-behavioral therapies 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.

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What is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy or REBT?

Rational emotive behavior therapy is a form of cognitive behavior therapy dealing 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 is rooted in the belief that individuals are in control of their lives and emotions. A person has rational and irrational beliefs that affect how they think about things. These beliefs have behavioral consequences that can either be expressed through positive or negative feelings, emotions, and actions.

Irrational beliefs can lead to further negative effects and consequences. These consequences can lead to mental health conditions and physical ailments. On the other hand, rational beliefs can bring positive effects to the life of an individual. Having rational beliefs will help a person perceive people, places, and events objectively. Individuals with rational beliefs can live a more balanced and content life.

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Who developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?

The ‘Rational Psychotherapy and Individual Psychology’ by Albert Ellis is one of America’s most influential books. 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 are in control of their thought patterns and beliefs. In line with this, people are able to change their irrational beliefs into rational beliefs. This change will help people manage negative actions, addictive behaviors, and maladaptive behaviors. The book is historical in the field of behavioral therapy because it has become the foundation of the modern REBT being used in treatment centers today.

Although Ellis’ concept of changing irrational beliefs is not a new idea, he was the first to develop and describe scientifically validatable paradigms. During that period, Ellis was recognized as an important contributor to establishing the 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 it irrational beliefs or rational beliefs (Ellis and Dryden, 1988). Ellis’ research suggests the idea that how a person thinks differently affects how they feel. This theory has never been popularly believed before Ellis started experimenting with rational therapy.

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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 problem they had.

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 is crucial in his life. Albert Ellis was notably influenced by Epictetus by saying people have a different view of things than their own.

Second, Freud’s psychoanalysis made him believe that irrational thinking was the cause of psychological problems. Lastly, he was also influenced by Skinner’s operant conditioning which showed how people learn from their environment.

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. By replacing these thoughts with rational beliefs, people can learn coping techniques to deal with difficult situations.

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

Ideally, rational emotive behavior therapy will reinforce rational beliefs or desirable behavior and remove irrational beliefs or unwelcome behavior. 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 the life of a person. Without control over irrational beliefs, a person can develop emotional or behavioral issues. 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 and productive to lead a life with unconditional self-acceptance.

These beliefs help individuals take control of their lives, and understand that they have the power to change how they think and feel. The key to being happy and productive is to eliminate irrational beliefs and negative emotions.

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.

  1. I MUST excel in everything I do to be deemed worthy.
  2. I MUST always be treated how I treat others. People who do not treat me with kindness are bad.
  3. I MUST be entitled to anything and everything that I want.

These three musts center on one’s beliefs or irrational thoughts revolving around 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.

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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, Albert Ellis’ cognitive behavior therapy suggests that people develop three insights that can decrease the tendency of irrational thinking.

It is only through understanding and using all three insights that a person is 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. An emotional response is caused by irrational beliefs.

Individuals need to accept that when they feel negative emotions about a certain event, their irrational beliefs also play a part in the 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 on to 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 on to 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 a guide to help individuals change irrational beliefs to rational ones.

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

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The ABCs of Rational Emotive Behavioral 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 the said event. Among the elements in the ABC model is the formation and result of an irrational belief system.

This cognitive behavior therapy 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 with a focus on changing irrational thoughts and improving emotional well-being.

A: Activating Event

An activating event is any situation that triggers an emotional response. It can be a current event or something from the past. An activating event can be due to a person, place, experience, and so on. 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

The belief system of an individual is what 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 behaviors.

Underlying beliefs will affect how the individual reacts to the activating event. Taking the example above, the belief system that sparked the anger or jealousy from not receiving a wedding invitation can be that you believe that you are well-loved by everyone, even people you have met only once or twice.

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 consequences of irrational beliefs are the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive outcomes of holding on to 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 result in destructive behaviors such as getting drunk or lashing out at people close to you just to cope with not being invited to a wedding.

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What is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy used for?

Rational emotive behavior therapy, similar to cognitive behavior therapy, is used for a variety of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, anger management, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. It can also be used to teach people coping techniques to deal with stress and life changes.

Furthermore, rational emotive behavior therapy helps a person to change the way they think and behave. This kind of therapy will help the person change irrational beliefs into rational ones and lead to unconditional self-acceptance. The clinical psychologist will help a person understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors – including both rational and irrational beliefs.

Each session will focus on these irrational and rational beliefs. The goal is to work towards identifying irrational beliefs and negative thought patterns, challenging irrational thinking, and changing these into positive thoughts and rational beliefs. The therapist will also help the person develop coping techniques and emotional responses to deal with irrational beliefs and difficult situations.

It is important to note that rational emotive behavior therapy is not limited to the field of behavior therapy for mental health conditions. It can be used in other areas such as drug and alcohol abuse, marital counseling, and even in fields relating to professional competition such as sports psychology and in analyzing athletic performance.

Rational emotive behavior therapy has a generally accepted process that involves three steps. These include recognition of negative thought patterns and irrational beliefs, challenging these negative thoughts and irrational thought patterns, and acceptance of rational thoughts and reality.

Is rational emotive behavioral therapy effective?

REBT has been found to be an effective form of treatment for many psychological problems. 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 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. A study by the University of Utah found that REBT was more effective than cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of addiction.

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Despite the acceptance of this cognitive behavior therapy as a highly effective therapeutic tool, some criticism remains regarding rational emotive behavior therapy. Some people find that rational emotive behavior therapy is a bit rigid or stoic and doesn’t permit a constant shift from one situation to another. It could also mean the treatment is inaccessible to all potential patients.

Another major critique is that you can’t be hurt by irrational thoughts or behavior. Some people say that these thoughts are “only in the mind,” and cannot physically affect you or others around you. However, behavioral consequences can stem from these irrational thoughts. An irrational belief, when acted upon, can still have negative consequences.


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? The goal of rational emotive behavior therapy is to help individuals identify and change an irrational belief, which will lead to a decrease in 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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