What Is Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) and How Does It Work?

Muhammad Abubakar Mir
4 min readApr 21, 2022


Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a time-limited, practical style of psychotherapy that uses education and collaboration to help people change their thoughts, feelings, and actions. As a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), therapists use REBT to manage a wide spectrum of clinical and nonclinical issues like depression, anxiety, unsatisfactory relationships, and pain. REBT therapy aims to be brief, with desired results coming in between one and 18 months of treatment.

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy’s Core Concepts
The core principle of REBT, like other types of CBT, is that unpleasant actions and feelings are the results of faulty thinking. REBT spends a lot of time exploring how these thinking patterns affect the person’s current life, even though they are from the past. Someone who wants to enhance their health and well-being needs to change their mindset in order to alleviate symptoms and achieve the desired results.

REBT classifies illogical thinking patterns into various categories, including:

  • Demandingness is a dogmatic belief that people, situations, or the universe must or should be a specific way and that if they aren’t, something is wrong.
  • Awfulizing/catastrophizing: exaggerating the impact of an unpleasant incident or situation by believing that it is “the worst thing that could ever happen.”
  • Intolerance to discomfort and frustration: believing that a current or future event would be so bad that the person will never be able to handle it.
  • Exaggerating a person’s qualities or behaviors and using them to criticize the individual or a group of people is known as people-rating or overgeneralizing.

Every therapeutic orientation has its own style and perspective that influences how the therapist and client collaborate to discover and resolve challenges. To move sessions forward, REBT uses a revolutionary theory of cause and a theory of change.

Causation Theory
The REBT theory of causation aims to explain what makes individuals feel good and bad. REBT has founded on the premise that people’s thoughts determine their emotions and behavior. How people feel and function is determined by their thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs about themselves, others, and the world. To put it another way, how a person feels is more about how they perceive what occurs to them than it is about what happens to them.

What Issues Can REBT Help With?
REBT and other cognitive-behavioral therapies are effective at treating a wide range of mental, physical, and social health issues, whereas other psychotherapies may be tailored to a specific set of symptoms. REBT can assist minimize the stressors that are generally associated with everyday living, or it can help shrink the influence of a major mental health issue. REBT can be beneficial whether the problem is life-altering or simply mildly distressing.

REBT Techniques That Are Frequently Used
Sound therapy systems, such as REBT, rely on a foundation of strategies to assist clients to make the changes they want, and REBT has a variety of methods for encouraging logical thinking processes. A therapist will use a variety of strategies, including:

Analytical Reasoning

Irrational thinking, according to REBT, causes a variety of problems, including worry, avoidance, procrastination, pessimism, and whining. The rational analysis aids in the discovery and refutation of faulty beliefs.

Playing a role

The REBT therapist will accept and act out the client’s incorrect beliefs in these role-plays to demonstrate their weaknesses. Simultaneously, the client will dispute the therapist by taking the opposing viewpoint and acting as the devil’s advocate.

Projection of Time
The therapist encourages the client to picture the feared scenario occurring in order to assess how they would react and cope. Even after the suffering, projection indicates that time passes and the customer can adapt.


The client engages in the stressful behavior to demonstrate that it is never as bad as they imagine. Continuing with the frightening conduct will test and decrease the distorted idea.

Out of Character Acting

In this case, the therapist encourages the client to act in an unusual way as part of an experiment to see what happens. The client will be urged to act brave and confident if they are generally shy and timid.

The ABC Method
Explaining and implementing the ABC model is maybe REBT’s most important approach. With A as the activating event, B as the belief about the event, and C as the outcome or feeling, this technique gives a new way of understanding a person’s experience. People frequently believe that the activating event is the cause of the consequence, whereas REBT is founded on the notion that the belief is the cause of the outcome. The person can feel better by focusing on modifying beliefs rather than changing the activating event.

The ABC model is central to REBT, and many sessions will focus on the negative effects of irrational thinking and incorrect beliefs on a person’s life.



Muhammad Abubakar Mir

🇵🇰 | Studying Clinical Psychology | Interest in Science, Psychology, Politics, and Criminology. For enquiries:-192520015@gift.edu.pk