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Practical Applications of Rational Emotive Therapy
10 CEUs Practical Applications of Rational Emotive Therapy

Section 21
Relationship between CBT & REBT

Question 21 | Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | RET CEU Courses
Psychology CEs, Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs, Nurse CEUs

RET Becomes REBT
In June 1993, the name of rational-emotive therapy (RET) was changed to rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) because the theory "has always been highly cognitive, very emotive, and particularly behavioral"  therapy Rational Emotive Therapy mft CEU(Ellis, 1993). Essentially, Ellis changed the name to more accurately reflect the theory's broad focus on the interaction among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Had this study commenced after the name change had occurred in 1993, the participants would have been asked about the essence of REBT. Because the theory itself did not change as a result of the name change, one could safely assume that the answers provided by the nine experts would apply equally to REBT So as to avoid biasing or distorting the results of this study, I decided not to go back to the eight other committee members and ask them to repeat the task in light of the name change. Because the panel of experts was asked about RET, the term RET has been used for the most part throughout this article despite the increasingly wide use of REBT in the professional literature today.

Is CBT Moving Toward RET?
The confusion within RET circles about the relationship between RET and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is understandable. The cover of the 1993-1994 brochure published by IRET prominently declares: "Keep up with the latest developments in cognitive behavior therapy" (Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy, 1993-1994, p. 1). The same confusion surrounds the name of a journal. One of the primary outlets for the publication of scholarly articles on RET has been the Journal of Rational-Emotive Therapy (JRET), which has had a quasi-official relationship to IRET over the years.

In 1988, Grieger, one of JRET's editors, on announcing a change in the journal's name, stated:
This special issue marks a change in the Journal's title to Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. Both Paul Woods and I believe the new title more accurately reflects the purpose of this Journal--"To stimulate research and discussion into the development, and promulgation of Rational-Emotive Therapy (RET) and other forms of cognitive-behavior therapy." (p. 3)

Perhaps Grieger and Woods changed the name so that the journal's title would correspond with the then-current status of the theory. That seems to be what happened in 1983 when Rational Living, which was first published in 1966 by the Institute for Rational Living, belatedly changed its name to the Journal of Rational-Emotive Therapy.

The two groups into which all of the responses were assigned have been used before by Ellis (1979,1980). According to Ellis (1980,p. 325), "what I call general or unpreferential RET is synonymous with CBT, while what I have called elegant RET, but what may be more objectively be called preferential RET, differs significantly from CBT in several important respects." Ellis (1980,p. 326) believes that preferential RET "is more efficient, thoroughgoing, self-maintaining, and productive of 'deep' or 'pervasive' personality change than is general RET." Hence, the two categories used in this study correspond to Ellis's distinction between unpreferential RET, which is synonymous with CBT and referred to in this study as "general CBT," and elegant RET which is synonymous with preferential RET and referred to in this study as "RET-specific." There is clearly a precedent for using these two categories (Ellis, 1979, 1980). Those responses that have been classified as general CBT in this study by DiGiuseppe would have been labeled "general" or "unpreferential RET" using Ellis's definition above.

There is ample evidence that much of that which is associated with CBT has its origins in RET. Beal et al. (1994), which was expanded on by DiGiuseppe (Weinrach et al., 1995), showed how numerous aspects of RET have emerged as elements of mainstream CBT. "1 can't stand-it-itis," which is widely used in the RET literature and refers to Ellis's concept of low frustration tolerance, corresponds to Linehan's (1993) description of the intolerance of emotional upset by clients with borderline personality disorder. Ellis's (1989) concept of secondary emotional disturbance corresponds to Barlow's (1991a, 1991b) description of how people exaggerate their emotional disturbance by becoming anxious about their anxiety or depressed about their depression.

Other examples include acceptance, which is the rational converse of demandingness, the central concept of REBT. This corresponds to Jacobson's (1992) and Hayes and Hayes's (1992) emphasis on the importance of teaching clients acceptance. Ellis's irrational beliefs of demandingness and self-downing correspond to Persons (1989) and Young (1990) moving beyond challenging automatic thoughts and stressing changing clients' underlying schema or dysfunctional thoughts. Finally, Ellis's (1962) suggestions to help clients develop coping strategies corresponds to Meichenbaum's (1977) use of self-instructional statements.

A very strong case can be made for suggesting that CBT is moving toward RET, rather than vice versa. It is clear that much of what defines CBT was created and developed by Ellis. And while it is flattering that much of RET has been appropriated by CBT theorists, the fact remains that the roots of CBT are planted firmly in RET soil. To the extent that much of CBT is really RET, then, those responses in this study, previously assigned to the CBT group, could legitimately be claimed under the RET umbrella. CBT to many is "Ellislite."

Ellis had recently restated some of the major differences between CBT and RET/REBT (A. Ellis, personal communication, June 23, 1994). According to him, CBT does not tend to help the client to effect a philosophical shift at the most elegant level possible by challenging and changing these four irrational beliefs posited by REBT. . . . While Maxie Maultsby, Jr. and his followers sometimes challenge the absolutistic musts that REBT almost always focuses upon, the cognitive behavior therapies of Aaron Beck, Arnold Lazarus, Richard Lazarus, Donald Meichenbaum, Michael Mahoney, and other well-known cognitivists only infrequently, and often never, do so. None of these therapies, moreover, leaches people the REBT philosophy that they can work at only rating what they do but not rate their self or being or totality. REBT seems unique in this respect in that, unlike the person centered and existential therapists, it active-directively reaches this exceptionally important point. It also has specific emotive-evocative exercises, such as its famous shame-attacking exercise, to foster this teaching of unconditional self-acceptance.
- Weinrach, Stephen G.; Nine Experts Describe the Essence of Rational-Emotive Therapy While Standing on One Foot; Journal of Counseling & Development; Mar/Apr 1996, Vol. 74, Issue 4.

Personal Reflection Exercise #7
The preceding section contained information about the relationship between CBT and REBT. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

According to Ellis, what is the major difference between CBT and RET/REBT? Record the letter of the correct answer the Answer Booklet.

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