“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert
REBT is a goal-oriented and solution-focused approach to counseling. This means that as your therapist, I will encourage you to create a list of problems or challenges that you would like assistance with, as well as goals that you wish to achieve as a result of confronting these problems and challenges throughout our work together. In my experience, people generally do not have a difficult time identifying adversities that they are facing within their lives, nor do they substantially struggle with establishing goals that they want to achieve throughout counseling. Furthermore, my clients are generally receptive to my psycho-educational approach to therapy; therefore, they develop a genuine interest in learning about and understanding the principles of REBT. That being said:
Learning REBT within the therapy session is very different than practicing REBT outside of the session, as well as ultimately adopting the REBT philosophy for living.
REBT theory is based on the premise that people are not disturbed by adversities, events, other people, and life circumstances, but by their rigid and extreme views of these things, which we refer to as irrational beliefs. As a REBT specialist, when working with both individuals and couples, I look for irrational beliefs that are rooted in:
· Demands (ex. musts, absolute shoulds, oughts, have to’s, need to’s)
· Awfulizing & Catastrophizing (ex. “it’s horrible that…”, “it’s the end of the world that…”, “it’s awful that…”)
· Low Frustration Tolerance (ex. “I can’t take it”, “I can’t stand this”)
· Depreciation (ex. “I am a bad person”, “you are a lazy person”, “the world is an evil place”)
As your therapist, I am not going to tell you what to feel, how to behave, or how to think; however, I will help you to understand that you have two options for how to think about the inevitable challenges that will arise in your lifetime: (1.) you can think about them rationally or (2.) you can think about them irrationally. Furthermore, I will facilitate you with understanding how and why your attitudes and beliefs, your emotions, and your behaviors are deeply intertwined with and influenced by one another. Consequently, I will encourage you to think flexibly, to remember that adversities (large and small) are not the end of the world (but unfortunately they are part of the world), to learn the benefits of and to practice high frustration tolerance in order to effectively withstand that which makes you uncomfortable (but is ultimately worth doing for the benefit of accomplishing your long-term goals), and to surrender your desire to control that which you cannot control, in order to focus on transforming the parts of your life that are within your ability and power to change, such as your attitude or personal philosophy for living.
REBT puts people in a position to develop and sustain a profound philosophical, metaphysical, and attitudinal shift in their perspective. When REBT truly begins to click for you, your world is deeply and permanently transformed for the better; however, change truly requires each individual to be motivated in order to achieve it. No matter how hard I try to inspire and encourage my clients to complete their homework exercises in order to reinforce what we have discussed in session, to rehearse their strategies for identifying their own irrational thought patterns outside of therapy, and to increase their willingness to surrender their stubborn demands that they have learned to place on themselves, others, and the world, I cannot force or demand that these changes take place before my clients are ready to do so. In essence, life transformations begin when people grow fatigued of their own bullshit, also known as their irrational beliefs, unhealthy emotions, and unhelpful behaviors. In REBT, we call this taking emotional and behavioral responsibility for your life.
One final thought is that in REBT, we draw a distinction between feeling better and getting better. Counseling in general can help people to temporarily feel better; however, REBT helps people to get better by searching for emotional solutions prior to practical ones. In other words, emotional solutions lead you to getting better and staying better through helping you learn to effectively address both present and future challenges by responding with rational thinking, healthy feeling, and helpful acting and reacting. Therefore, I encourage you NOT to leave counseling when you feel better; rather, continue counseling with the long-term goal of getting better, staying better, and living better. This means, permanently surrendering your bullshit and cultivating your own emotional autonomy through rational thinking!
To learn more about my approach to counseling through REBT, read my articles on:
To learn more about my approach to couples counseling through REBT, read my articles on: