Readings and Discussion Post: Rational Emotive/Behavior Therapies
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Readings: Okun: Ch. 5; Stolorow, R. D. (2012)

Okun-05-Chapter05_Evolution_and_Key_Concepts.pdfPreview the document

Discussion post: What are the core elements of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and System of Personality?


Hello class!

After reading the assigned chapter from Okun (1990), rational emotive behavior therapy was a theory developed by Albert Ellis in the 1950’s (p. 133). Rational emotive behavior therapy is based off of personality and has the technique of psychotherapy (Okun, 1990). Ellis believes that humans are both irrational and rational individuals whom both their emotions and thoughts overlap. However, emotion is related to other responses (Okun, 1990). Emotions are controlled by our thoughts, while our feelings are controlled by our senses. Ellis believed that humans have the ability to have rational behavior and also develop free will. He explains that when a person comes into this world, they are only learning and influencing from other individuals, which ends up leading to irrational thinking (Okun, 1990). Irrational thinking are negative thoughts that an individual has on themselves and the thoughts of harming oneself. Our emotions can be highly influenced from traumatic events, which gets us in touch with our vulnerability (Stolorow, 2012). In rational emotive behavior therapy, Ellis developed an ABC theory, which is based off of (A)ctivating events, (B)elief system, and (C)onsequence (Okun, 1990). The activating event is when something traumatic happens in our lives. The belief system is what we think about the event that happened. Lastly, the consequence is our emotional reaction about the belief (Okun, 1990). What ends up happening is that when an individual has irrational thinking, then it causes emotional interruptions. Therefore, in a rational emotive behavioral approach, the therapists’ role is to change those irrational thoughts of the client and change them to rational and logical thoughts.

The goal of rational emotive behavior theory is to make the patient have more control over their lives and improve the way they think and feel. An example of this therapy would be if a client came in to see their therapist for their depression. Depression creates feeling of unhappiness and hopelessness. Therefore, this is when the therapist can give some tasks for the patient to do when they are feeling hopeless. When the patient is feeling sad, mad, or hopeless, then it would be their job to think positive at the moment they are feeling depressed. The patient can also write down moments when the client feels sad, and that will give them the chance to go back and find out why they felt that emotion at that moment.


Okun, B. F. (1990). Seeking connections in psychotherapy. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Stolorow, R. D. (2012). The renewal of humanism in psychoanalytic therapy. Psychotherapy, 49(4), 442-444. doi:10.1037/a0027053.

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