REBT Values Which Promote Mental Health
Dr. Albert Ellis founded RET in 1955 and later changed it to REBT to include a behavioral component. Called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, this therapy was the first of its kind to imply the mediational role of thought on emotion and behavior.
In this elegant theory, Ellis simplified a model that was easily taught to others. The A-B-C model quickly helps you to gain control of your experience. You’ll see (as my clients do) that your feelings aren’t random events & neither are your other reactions—you’re feeling as you do for a reason & you are acting as you are for a reason. And the reason isn’t the event, it is what you’re BELIEVING about the event.
Once you understand the connection between B and C, called the B to C connection, you will realize the vast implications of BELIEVING your ideas. Not only do your beliefs have immediate implications for your emotions, behavior, and physiology, but regularly releasing unhealthy ideas can change the entire trajectory of your life.
So, I start by teaching my clients to become aware of the A-B-C’s that operate in each experience.
A = Adversity or Activating Event
B = Beliefs About A (rational and irrational)
C = Consequences of Believing the Irrational Beliefs (emotional, behavioral, physiological)
At first, as the therapist, I’m the one doing the disputation of the irrational beliefs & the examination of new ways of looking at life circumstances. Eventually my clients learn to do this for themselves.
D = Disputation of the Irrational Beliefs (is the belief based in reality, logical, and useful)
E = Effective new philosophy
F = Functional new feelings, behaviors, and physiological responses
As my clients practice doing the ABCDEF’s each time they experience unhealthy negative emotions (depression, fear/panic, anger/rage, guilt/shame/embarrassment), they find that they eventually get to a point of experiencing these unhealthy negative emotions much less & experiencing healthy negative emotions instead (sadness, concern, irritation/annoyance, regret/remorse). Note: These are usually called healthy negative emotions because they don’t prevent goal-attainment or cause impairment, and unhealthy negative emotions tend to do so.
My clients who do this consistently report that they experience a lot of relief & I notice that they tend to move toward Unconditional Self Acceptance, Unconditional Other Acceptance, and Unconditional Life Acceptance (which Ellis said are antidotes to suffering).
Once this becomes prominent, it is really gratifying to witness the emotional energy that emerges. This frees people to move beyond just REACTING to life & into CREATING the lives they really want. In the CREATION mode, there are several REBT ideas or values which promote mental health & well-being (these overlap with each other somewhat):
Humor: learning to laugh at yourself, not take yourself so seriously, and not take life so seriously; developing a bit of irreverence at times so as to release your insane expectations on yourself, others, and life
Enlightened self-interest: learning how to take good care of yourself & get more of what you want out of life, learning how to set limits and have healthy boundaries, learning how to communicate assertively when needed, learning to act in your own best interests and look out for your own wellbeing
Social Interest: balancing caring about others (humans, animals, the planet, the universe) with caring about yourself, recognizing that we’re all interconnected and part of a social world so it is in your interest to get along with others and sometimes work for their well-being, acknowledging that you will benefit more in life when you accept others & when you sometimes share with others (which is done in a variety of ways)
Self-direction: learning how to set goals for yourself & develop high frustration tolerance so that you can sometimes reach your goals, learning how to make your own decisions & to accept yourself as fallible when you make mistakes, learning how to be an independent thinker and to live life independently even though you may take the opinions of others into account, learning how to be very interested in the opinions of others without letting their opinions or behaviors dictate whether or not you do what is best for you
Commitment to a Vital Absorbing Interest: developing your curiosity about many things in life and observing what you’re most interested in, pursuing your interest in a regular and committed fashion; pursuing greater understanding which gives you greater vitality & passion in life; contributing to the growth of this interest in yourself and in others who are like-minded.
Ultimately, these values are best accompanied by daily use of REBT. The REBTNetwork.org has a self-help form and DIBS form to help you to do this in a regular way. My clients often benefit from combining the values of REBT with the regular process of challenging any thoughts which are self-defeating.
About the author:
Dr. Pam Garcy is a Clinical Psychologist and Life Coach in private practice in Dallas, Texas. Pam enjoys using REBT in her practice, and she has written several REBT based books to help others including The REBT Super-Activity Guide and, more recently, How To Make Time When You Don't Have Any. When not seeing clients, she serves as the Director of Clinical Training at the Texas School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University Dallas. She also conducts The Dallas REBT CBT Meetup, The Dallas Club Fearless Meetup, and The Dallas Women's Workshops. Please contact Pam to inquire about in-person REBT therapy or REBT based phone-coaching.
Pamela D. Garcy, Ph.D.
4222 Trinity Mills Road, Suite 106
Dallas, Texas 75287
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