When it comes to addiction, various therapeutic approaches exist. As the addiction epidemic continues to worsen based on the state of the world, those who treat the condition continue to search for new and effective means of treating substance use disorders. One such treatment that exists is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, and it has become one of the most common forms of psychotherapies used for addiction.

If you’re struggling with addiction and seeking alternative means of treatment, it’s important to learn about what’s available to you.

What Is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a popular and effective cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It is one of the most recommended approaches to treatment by professionals in the addiction field and is a broad category of therapies with various techniques. REBT is one such method, and it is based on the idea that our behaviors can be altered by changing our perception to treat specific symptoms.

One of the core philosophies in REBT is that your circumstances aren’t related to your symptoms. The way you perceive the events will cause these symptoms. The way you respond to these circumstances in life will affect how you experience adverse symptoms or positively cope with your challenges. When it comes to treating addiction, stress, and triggers aren’t the reason you relapse; it’s the perception of these events and how you cope.

Rational thinking defines REBT, and your therapist will help you work through some of these issues by challenging irrational thoughts and promoting rational thoughts. The idea behind rationality and irrationality is a central focus of REBT, and it brings a humanistic approach to the therapy.

By bringing a humanistic approach to the therapy means you focus on improving self-actualization and self-image. In addition to this, it means that REBT emphasizes positivity and a positive outlook.

REBT was created by Albert Ellis, a famous psychologist in the 1950s. The theories are based on the central human condition, meaning humans are inherently self-defeating and irrational. Treating cognitive-behavioral problems means to challenge irrational beliefs.

The most common irrational beliefs Ellis said people hold are:

  • Individuals feel that they must be perfect. When you fail to live up to an ideal standard you impose on yourself, society, or others may lead to self-doubt and defeatism.
  • Others should treat themselves perfectly. When another person fails to live up to your expectations, it may trigger negative behavioral and coping issues.
  • They feel the world must be perfect, and when problems arise out of their control, it causes negative behavior and psychological symptoms.

The irrational expectations for perfection led Ellis to believe that therapists should avoid using specific words like “must” and speaking in absolutes.

How Does REBT Work?

Ellis describes Rational Emotive Behavior and how it works by using the ABC model. It involves identifying activating events, how beliefs are relevant to the event, and the consequences for the thoughts.

One such example of an activating effect is a stressor in your life, such as being late to work. Your response to that stressor will be you’re fired, causing you to drive recklessly to be on time. The consequence of your action may result in a speeding ticket, and consequences that lead back to new activating events trigger a new ABC cycle.

The ABC model is used to facilitate positive outcomes in REBT, and an activating event like being late will encourage a belief that being late for work happens to everyone on occasion, which won’t lead to the worst-case scenario of losing your job. The result is a calmer, more serene ride to work where you avoid adverse outcomes or tickets.

Role-playing, reframing, shame attacking, homework, and the use of humor are other approaches to REBT. These elements are used to find the source of activating events and use learned coping responses. These are also implemented to gain clarity into different life events to realize the symptoms are caused by belief and perception. It’s vital to dispute these irrational beliefs.

Pros And Cons Of REBT

There are several benefits when it comes to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, and it can be used in various applications. As you might expect, there are also some criticisms. Below are a few of each.

Advantages Of REBT

Our behaviors and thoughts are accessible. While some treatment models may focus on your past events, memories, and childhood issues, they aren’t easily accessible or straightforward to remember as you feel in the present. In most cases, it’s easier for a person to engage with a treatment approach and explores what they’re feeling in the present moment.

REBT is considered an evidence-based treatment, meaning it’s proven effective during scientific studies. Research has also found therapy effectively reduces irrational beliefs and treats the primary symptoms of behavioral issues.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is centered around facilitating philosophical changes, and the therapy effectively treats a wide variety of people and their disorders. A philosophical change can last for extended periods and promote long-term freedom and sobriety from addiction struggles.

Criticisms Of REBT

The core philosophy of REBT is that thoughts cause symptoms. Unfortunately, this position has been criticized because, despite its logic, it’s up for debate. Psychological issues can be caused by biochemical problems, specific disorders, or other issues that alter thoughts. The advocates of REBT believe that doesn’t mean REBT isn’t useful, but what causes these symptoms to appear doesn’t matter if REBT can effectively address thinking, symptoms, and disorders.

REBT also implements a “therapist as expert” model, meaning a therapist takes an authoritative position during treatment. Other treatment types prefer to approach it in a way that the individual explores themselves to find answers while a therapist assists them. REBT requires a lot of involvement from a therapist, and many see this as a negative. Heavy therapist involvement, however, is crucial to promote self-efficacy and self-actualization.

How To Get Help

If you’re struggling with addiction or other conditions causing you strife, it’s important to remember that you can reach out for help. We understand that various barriers exist and make it seem like getting help is not the answer, but that should never be the case. If you’re worried about cost, insurance can cover the expenses. If you’re uninsured, there are cost-effective means provided by governments at the state and local levels.

If you’re worried about how your family, friends, or employer might feel by admitting you have a problem, you shouldn’t. In fact, all of these individuals will be proud of you for accepting your problems and facing them. Without help, you’ll never achieve the life you desire. Going through Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy can help you gain control back over your life and find the happiness you deserve.

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