Depression and Rational-Emotional Behavior Therapy

Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), is a cognitive-behavioral approach developed by Albert Ellis in 1955 under the name “Rational Therapy” as a personality theory and also psychotherapy method. Then it was named “Rational-Emotional Therapy” in 1961 and “Rational-Emotional Behavior Therapy” ( REBT) which we use today.

According to Ellis, people are depressed, anxious, distressed and have similar problems due to false reasoning and irrational beliefs.

REBT According to the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, “It is not the events that cause one’s problems, but the person’s thoughts on events.” based on the opinion. The view that people make themselves sacrificed by distorted, inaccurate and fundamentally irrational thoughts forms the basis of REBT. Ellis explains it with the A-B-C model.

A (Activating Experience): The experience that triggers an action

B (Belief): A person’s logical or unrealistic thoughts and beliefs about the events that take part in article A.

C (Consequences for emotions): Emotional Consequences

Why you can’t directly skip to C from A; because the thing that creates C is our beliefs about A, which is B.


For example, let’s examine a person who got into depression after a dismissal. The cause of the depression is not the event itself but his beliefs for example losing his job. A person can experience feelings such as depression, anxiety, anger, self-disgust, incompetent because of irrational belief about his experience. Ellis groups irrational beliefs in four categories.

So the first and most common expression is” I “should no do this.”

The second one is the irrational beliefs which the person believes he cannot and will not stand to possible situations and consequences.

The third one is irrational beliefs that make the possible consequences and situations disastrous by believing that it will end in its most negative form.

The fourth one is negative irrational beliefs that can be expressed as “characterizing” by disparaging subjective evaluations.

According to Ellis, these four irrational beliefs are the basis of all other irrational beliefs that can also be seen in individuals. Thus, Ellis assumes that negative beliefs affects person directly. In childhood, irrational beliefs are learned from people who are important to the child.

Irrational beliefs;

  • Proportional to reality and not realistic
  • Not based on reasonable inferences
  • Rigid, wrong and dogmatic
  • Misinterpretation
  • Consists of orders and obligations and impositions
  • Frequently causes excessive generalizations
  • Depression, jealousy, incapacity can lead to unhealthy but also negative emotions such as anger and anxiety.
  • Emotional, behavioral and cognitive consequences are not functional
  • It prevents the individual from reaching his / her goals (Dryden & Neenan, 2004).

 The aim of REBT is to show how to change people’s irrational beliefs that cause bad emotional consequences. Ellis uses a number of techniques to show and reconstruct these irrational beliefs in individuals such as:

  • Building trust based relationship with the client.
  • Criticism
  • Teaching
  • Giving feedback
  • Humor
  • Methods such as homework (Shertzer & Stone, 1971).

In addition to these techniques, REBT clinicians use different cognitive and emotional methods such as

  • Changing the language used by the client
  • Comparison
  • Roleplaying
  • Relaxation
  • Behavioral methods, such as modeling, are often used in therapies (Corey, 1980).


 In REBT therapy sessions, the client becomes aware of his / her thoughts through the therapist. Then,they develop the ability to detect distorted verbal cognitions and visual images (Piştof and Şanlı, 2013).

After that, irrational and dysfunctional judgments replaces with rational and functional judgments. Finally, feedback is to see whether the client’s change in his or her life through therapy is functional

 The therapeutic process in REBT is not only concerned with the resolution or minimization of anxiety, depression, anger, and other emotional problems. But also with positive areas such as happiness, responsibility, pleasure from life, acting rationally, independence, and the use of people’s potential ( Patterson, 1986).

According to the studies, 75% of the depressed people who underwent REBT improved their condition (David et al. 2004).

In the 21st century, there are many therapy methods that deal with depression in different ways and scientific researches support their effects. So if you are experiencing depression, please make a decision about the most appropriate method and get the necessary support from psychologists and psychiatrists.

Source: Psychologist Rana Kutvan

About the Author
Total 88 posts
Marilyn Walker
Marilyn Walker
I am studying in Florida about Dialectic Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I'm doing research on Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), Cognitive psychology, Metacognitive Therapy.
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