The following sections describe the goals of the counseling or therapy process and how change occurs, with specific emphasis on the therapeutic relationship and the A-B-C process that is a hallmark of this theory. A wide array of cognitive, emotive, and behavioral interventions that illustrate the multimodal nature of the theory is also presented.
Goals of Counseling and Psychotherapy
The goal of REBT is to help clients develop a rational philosophy of life that will reduce their emotional distress and self-defeating behavior and result in their ability to lead a happier and more fulfilling life (Dryden, 2002c; Ellis, 2001a). To achieve this goal, REBT counselors or therapists help clients identify how they prevent themselves from being happy by focusing on their irrational beliefs that lead to emotional and behavioral disturbance. They encourage clients to think more rationally (logically and flexibly), feel healthier, and act more efficiently to achieve their basic goals and purposes (Dryden, 2002c). Consequently, the counselor or therapist uses cognitive, emotive, and behavioral interventions that help clients feel better and get better.
A basic premise of this theory is that it is educative and preventative (Vernon, 2009c, 2009d). Therefore, another goal of the REBT counseling or psychotherapeutic process is to educate clients about how they disturb themselves and to actively teach them the A-B-C model (discussed below) so they can ultimately help themselves (Ellis, 2002a). Counselors or therapists using REBT encourage clients to read self-help books and listen to tapes. They share worksheets and articles that describe cognitive distortions and emotional disturbance. They do not hesitate to use themselves as models to teach the concept of selfacceptance by self-disclosing about how they have made mistakes or learned to overcome low frustration tolerance, for example. With children and adolescents, REBT counselors and therapists use developmentally appropriate interventions that teach young clients the basic REBT concepts and how to help themselves overcome their problems (DiGiuseppe & Bernard, 2006; Vernon, 2006a, 2006b, 2009a, 2009c, 2009d).