Frequently Asked Questions

The Essence of REBT

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy & Life Coaching
“Problem focused therapy, long term emotional control…”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is both a philosophy and a problem focused, action oriented psychotherapy. It the original form of cognitive behavior therapy started in 1955 by the late psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis. REBT is an amalgamation of ancient and modern philosophy packaged for emotional wellbeing and problems of daily living.

How can REBT help me? 
REBT shows you how you disturb yourself about the problems and obstacles you encounter. It teaches you how to stop disturbing yourself so that you can more creatively work to resolve problems or circumvent obstacles. When problems and obstacles are permanent or insurmountable REBT shows you how to gracefully live with such circumstances and to still have a degree of happiness and pleasure despite the existence of a grim reality.

Does REBT try to brainwash me? 
No. REBT encourages you to think for yourself. REBT encourages you to look at a new and presumably better philosophy that helps you function better in a difficult world. However, it encourages you to challenge your self-defeating beliefs and adopt beliefs that will help you cope and be happier if you choose to adopt these beliefs. It encourages the use of logic, scientific reasoning, and realism to help you think for yourself, accept yourself, tolerate others and live happily in a difficult world. It is against dogma.

Can REBT help with behavioral problems? 
Yes. REBT shows you how self-defeating behavior results from emotional disturbance. REBT teaches you how to change your self-defeating emotions and the self-defeating behaviors which flow from these emotions.

Can REBT help me deal better with difficult family members or coworkers? 
Yes. REBT teaches that fallible humans needlessly disturb themselves about the other fallible humans they live and work with. REBT actively shows you how to better tolerate difficult people. It then teaches you how to assertively respond to these people when they misbehave towards you. By learning how not to disturb yourself about the things other people do you are then in a better position to figure out how best to persuade them if this is possible.

If I learn to use REBT will I no longer feel emotions? 
No. In REBT we distinguish between healthy negative emotions and unhealthy, self-defeating negative emotions. Healthy negative emotions are good in so far as they are important signals that something you value is not occurring in reality. Healthy negative emotions are motivating and they are the fuel for the efforts you make to change what you can change. The emotion of concern is a great example. It is a healthy but negative emotion. Concern is negative because it is an uncomfortable feeling. Concern is healthy because it motivates you to do all sorts of things that you may not want to do but are in your long term best interest to do.

How long does REBT psychotherapy take? 
REBT is problem focused. The emphasis is on getting you to adopt beliefs that will enable you to cope and function well despite past, present and future adversities. People who are willing to adopt self-helping beliefs and practice new ways of behaving can see results in as few as three to seven sessions. Those who are unwilling to do REBT reading assignments, practice new beliefs and behaviors, and generally are unwilling to work at change take considerably longer and sadly may waste their time and money and derive little improvement.  REBT can be very liberating but is not a magic solution to life’s problems. REBT encourages people to assume personal responsibility for change and then to work and practice to extend and maintain that change.

Why do you offer both 30 minute and 50 minute sessions? 
In REBT we do very little chit chat. It is problem focused. From the minute I greet you I want to learn what problem you want to deal with today. Although I will get the gist for the situational context of the problem in short order we will be focusing on how you think about the problem. Your beliefs determine your emotional responses and subsequent behavior. This problem focused approach can be done by an experienced REBT psychologist in 30 minutes without rushing. Most people opt for a traditional 50 minute session but this is up to you. Not everyone can afford a 50 minute session and people can profit from a 30 minute session when we get down to business right at the outset of each session.

Are weekly sessions required? 
No. I generally suggest two or three weekly sessions at the start to help you build a foundation of knowledge and skill. Many of my patients quickly move to an every other week format. REBT is realistic and encourages self-direction and personal responsibility. At end of each session I ask you when you want to see me again. The frequency of sessions is up to you and based upon your level of motivation or distress, available time, and financial resources.

What is the most important ingredient to a successful course of REBT therapy? 
It is a willingness to do between session short reading assignments, think about and experiment with new beliefs, and then to act on those beliefs. When people try to implement new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving in their home and work environments they generally make good progress with REBT.

What if my problems were caused by past trauma? 
If your problems in the present are associated with an event or trauma that occurred in the past REBT can show you how you can stop allowing the past to continue to plague you in the present. The focus in REBT is how you think about past traumas, present problems and future anticipated obstacles. Your current personal philosophy matters a great deal and this is what is discussed during REBT sessions.

What if I have a biological or psychiatric problem? 
REBT acknowledges that humans are highly imperfect beings. Even when a person has a biological or psychiatric disorder their thinking and personal philosophy still comes into play. REBT can help you live well despite the presence of a psychiatric disorder. REBT can help you accept yourself with your psychiatric disorder and help improve your functioning despite the presence of a psychiatric disorder. The same applies with physical limitations. REBT teaches you how to carry on even when you have physical or psychiatric problems to bear.

What are the REBT criteria of psychological health? 
REBT encourages people to make a profound philosophic change. In REBT we are not only trying to get you to reduce the emotional and behavioral symptoms that originally brought you into therapy we are also trying to help you to improve your overall psychological health. To that end we gauge psychological health along these 13 criteria: Self-Interest, Social Interest, Self-direction, High Frustration Tolerance, Flexibility and Nonextreme thinking, Acceptance of Uncertainty, Commitment to Meaningful Pursuits, Scientific thinking, Self-Acceptance, Calculated Risk-taking, Long-range Hedonism, Nonutopianism, Self-responsibility for Your Own Emotional Disturbance.

Does REBT encourage atheism? 
No. It is well known that the originator of REBT Albert Ellis was an atheist. REBT teaches tolerance and self-acceptance. It is against dogma and encourages the use of scientific thinking to cope with reality and solve problems. However, it acknowledges that one can effectively use REBT regardless of one’s religious views.

Additional Questions
For additional questions and answers on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, please view the collection of responses by leading REBT psychologists Dr. Raymond DiGiuseppe and Dr. Kristene Doyle.

Phone: 212-750-2826 to schedule an appointment.