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Rational-Emotive-Behavioural Therapy (REBT)

Overview of Rational-Emotive-Behavioural Therapy (REBT)

REBT assumes that most individuals strive to be happy in their lives but when obstacles prevent them achieving this, individuals either respond healthily or unhealthily. Furthermore, events themselves do not create distress but the individual's response to the event. For example, when something happens, a person may respond with an irrational belief, such as "No-one likes me". It is the irrational beliefs that influence a person's emotional reaction which in turn creates distress. REBT seeks to challenge the irrational beliefs and develop more rational beliefs, to help develop healthier responses to events, thereby reducing psychological distress.

REBT is focused on helping the individual develop inner skills and resources to be able to challenge their own rational beliefs and choose more adaptive coping responses.

Who uses it?

REBT is used by REBT-trained psychotherapists and counsellors.

Why would someone use it?

REBT is led by both the therapist and the client at different times throughout the treatment and may therefore suit a wide range of individual personalities and preferences.

REBT is used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and specific phobias.

Strengths of the approach:

REBT is a short- to medium-term treatment, and is focused on the achievement of specific goals, as defined and agreed between the therapist and client. This treatment focuses on specific changes to beliefs and behaviour.

Depending on geographic location, this treatment may be available free on the NHS or it can be obtained privately through a psychotherapist or REBT-trained therapist.


REBT treats specific symptoms in the short-term, however, it does not focus on deeper issues from the past which may underly the symptoms or issues currently experienced. These may need to be explored further through other therapies that include the role of past experiences (see Integrative, Interpersonal, Psychodynamic, Psychoanalytic, Systemic, Transactional, Trauma Training – link)

REBT may not be suitable for individuals experiencing intense emotions, for example, individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder - see Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

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