ABC & D of REBT

I got on to Secret app a while ago. I did not expect to find anything unusual other than the rants about workplaces, brags about sexual escapades or vice versa. What disturbed me was the number of my friends who were posting distressing messages about being depressed, feeling sad or feeling hopeless. Some more serious than others. I have tried to suggest therapy to all of them but the most common refrain I heard was…

  1.  I don’t want to share my past and
  2.  It is a very slow process taking years.

No it is not so! It is not so specially if you go to a REBT practitioner.

REBT (pronounced R.E.B.T not rebbit) stands for Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy. Created and Developed by Albert Ellis, REBT does not focus much on your past events but more on your present state of emotions and disturbances. It has a very easy to understand model for psychological and emotional disturbances which is very aptly called the ABC of REBT. I first came across this model when I consulted Dr. Shishir Palsapure of MorphicMinds a couple of years ago for what I feared was a Major Clinical Depression (It was not. I was merely upset.) I was so blown away by the directness and effectiveness of the method that I started to study REBT as an interest to better understand how human cognition works and now I can apply its principles in almost everything I do.

So what is the ABC model?

A – Adversity or Activating event
B – Belief you have about the event
C – Consequence

Most people associate A – Adversity directly with C – Consequence. To illustrate, A: My colleague may not like me, consequently I feel the C: I am anxious/sad/depressed. If you look closely you will notice that it is not really a direct connection but it has a belief about the adversity that you hold interjected in between. The Belief is that my colleague must like me. It is this belief that she must like me that has upset you. It is also an irrational and rigid belief (iB). If you question yourself as to why is it a must that she should like you? You will find that the answers are either elusive or unsatisfactory.

The questioning of your irrational beliefs is the D – Disputing part of the model. You are taught in therapy to challenge your beliefs and try to replace them. A more rational belief (rB) would be, I want her to like me but it is not a must that she should! If you are successful at replacing your irrational belief with this more rational belief, you will then probably be just concerned and ask her if anything was wrong without going through all the unhealthy negative emotions.

This of course is a very simplified example but it works at all levels. The results are fast, you see significant progress in a few sessions which are typically a week apart. About 8 sessions are adequate for most cases in the hands of a skilled practitioner.

A few more examples of irrational vs. rational beliefs

Irrational Beliefs (iB’s)

  • Everyone HAS to like me; if someone doesn’t then life is terrible.
  • I MUST be good; if I do anything wrong then I am a terrible person.
  • I ABSOLUTELY have to be treated fairly or I CANNOT cope.
  • I HAVE TO get my way or the day and possibly my life is garbage.
  • If anything goes wrong then everything is TERRIBLE.

Rational Beliefs (rB’s)

  • I prefer to be liked, but can accept that not everyone will approve of me.
  • Some things that I do are bad, but that does not mean I am a bad person or beyond help.
  • I prefer to be treated fairly but I know that I will sometimes be treated unfairly and can accept it.
  • I prefer to get my way when possible but know that that is not always possible; when someone else gets their way instead, it is not a big deal.
  • Life is not perfect- stuff happens.

For past couple of months I have been attending what we lovingly refer to as Happy Hour discussion group at MorphicMinds. We meet each evening to discuss topics ranging from Depression to Weight management. I really enjoy my role as a facilitator, helper and avid student of REBT.

If any of my friends who are in Nagpur want to join in they are most welcome to do so. If anyone who wants to still remain anonymous but has questions – I am ‘swordfish’ on Anonyfish. I will try to answer your questions about REBT to be best of my knowledge BUT let me warn you I cannot be your therapist as I am simply not qualified to be one, also because one is not supposed to give therapy to friends.

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