Rational Emotive Therapy

Many people are either unwilling or unable to realize that they have a problem that requires fixing when it comes to health. Whether this is a physical ailment or a mental one, many people will deny that there’s an issue for long enough that that problem only gets worse.

If you have someone in your life who is struggling to deal with something – such as an addiction or some emotional trauma – in their life, and you think that a specific type of therapy might help them, you should look into Rational Emotive Therapy for their needs.

What Is Rational Emotive Therapy?

Rational emotive therapy is known as rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). It is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on issues that bloom from when people have internalized irrational and unfounded beliefs about themselves and/or the world.

Before we continue much further, here is a quick summary of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). When it comes to CBT, it is a form of therapy specifically meant to help a patient focus on the present rather than any triggers or traumas that might be hounding them from the past. The general core idea of CBT is to try and help a patient reevaluate how they view the world to deal with any issues plaguing them more objectively.

REBT is an action-oriented therapy that will specifically help patients wrangle mismanaged emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in much healthier and more beneficial ways for the patient.

REBT treatments hope to help patients realize what their irrational understandings may be stemming from and figure out how to deal with those traumas and events that are causing distress mentally.

What Are The Principles Of REBT?

Conveniently enough, the practice of REBT has created a series of principles that can be easily remembered with the following three letters: ABC. Just as in kindergarten, when you were learning the alphabet, those same childhood skills can help you deal with your traumas through REBT.

The whole methodology of REBT stems from a belief that people, as a general rule, wish for other people – including you – to do well and be happy in life, whether that means achieving your goals or finding happiness.

However, even if you think that others want the best for you, your brain might inundate you with irrational thoughts.

For example, think about the last time you sent someone an e-mail. First, you sent them the e-mail… then you waited… and waited… and waited…

At this point, your brain has likely gotten you to start thinking that whoever you e-mailed was so insulted (somehow) by your message that they never want to speak with you again. Even though there are other potential responses – such as that the e-mail went to their spam folder or their Internet went down – by this point, your brain has likely latched onto the idea that this e-mail recipient hates you.

REBT tries to help your brain navigate backward from those thoughts until you can consider other – more likely – possibilities instead of spiraling into uncertainties.

Back to the ABCs, here’s how those shake out for easy remembrance:

  • A – Activating an event or situation that triggers your brain to spiral out of control (e.g., not receiving a response to your e-mail)
  • B – Believing irrational thoughts (e.g., you’ve offended the recipient and they hate you now)
  • C – Consequences = the irrational and negative thoughts and feelings you now have about yourself based on what you assume happened in B (e.g., you’re trash because you offended someone via an e-mail)

REBT will have you go through these three steps and identify each of these elements in the hope that you can realize that there are other factors potentially at play (e.g., the e-mail went to their spam folder).

What Techniques Are Used In REBT?

Typically, the techniques that are used to help a patient through the REBT methodology are:

  • Techniques to help with problem-solving so that the patient can destabilize their certainty in A
  • Cognitive restructuring techniques will help the patient to not immediately jump to the worst possible option (B) and perhaps instead think of more logical or rational explanations
  • Methods for coping will allow the patient to handle issue C – instead of focusing on the negative and how they’re a horrible person, they might then be able to instead focus on relaxation and positive thoughts

When Is REBT Used?

REBT is a bit more a niche therapy technique in that it’s typically used to treat patients who are dealing with: obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, behavior that is disruptive or not socially acceptable, and social anxiety.


There are some differences between REBT and CBT, but one of the largest is that REBT forces the patient to focus only on the positive. Negativity isn’t allowed in these circumstances, meaning that it is not particularly effective for dealing with traumas plaguing an individual in the current day.

Whereas CBT forces the patient to look at their past trauma and find out the best ways to handle it, whether that’s raging at it or accepting it, REBT aggressively works on the principle that the only way to deal with negative, irrational thoughts is to combat them with positive thoughts.

How Effective Is REBT?

Studies have shown that it is effective more times than it is not when it comes to REBT. Specifically, because it can be used for several mental illnesses and has so many actionable elements, it is useful in many situations.

Additionally, since REBT is more education-based than other therapies, it allows the patient to take visible action much sooner to discover the best decisions for their mental health to keep their change an ongoing thing through the future.

Having said this, every person is different, and you may find that REBT doesn’t work quite as effectively for you as you hoped. Don’t give up if this is the case, and keep working at it. 

There’ll be something that can help you!

Get Started At North Star Treatment Services

If Rational Emotive Therapy seems like it might be helpful for you or your loved ones, you should look into places that provide these services, such as us at North Star Treatment. We have a team of knowledgeable and experienced experts who want the best for our patients. So, if Rational Emotive Therapy is something you wish to pursue, reach out to us and see if we’ll be a good fit for helping you on your recovery journey.