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Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy - Assessment and Techniques Used

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy - Assessment and Techniques Used

Last Updated: 31-03-2023

Written by :

Ms.Zahabiya Bambora
Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.

Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
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Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT) is a cognitive therapy based on the theory of personality proposed (1956) by Albert Ellis. According to Ellis, when an individual is faced with an activating event (A), their ability to achieve what they desire or aim can be bolstered or disturbed. In response to the event, their belief systems (B) get activated and are applied. Furthermore, they also go through the consequences (C), emotional or behavioral, because of the event. Together this is known as the A-B-C model of personality. 
The A-B-C philosophy is applied to the process of therapy in REBT.  In a therapy session, an activating event (A) is identified which could be a situation or the way a person perceives the situation to be. The therapist along with the client identifies the irrational belief systems (B) and offers concurrent rational thinking patterns. REBT belief patterns are as follows: 

Rational Beliefs

  • Non-dogmatic preferences: Using expressions such as “I WISH to win the marathon”, “I WANT to answer all the questions in the interview

  • Evaluating bad elements: Use expressions such as “It’s unfortunate I didn’t score well”.
  • High frustration tolerance: “I don’t like this task but I can stand it”
  • Not globally rating self or others: Considering oneself and others as fallible human beings

Irrational Beliefs

  • Dogmatic demands: Using absolutes for oneself like “I MUST win this marathon”, and “I SHOULD be able to answer all the questions in the interview”.

  • Awfulizing: Using adjectives such as “This is HORRIBLE”, and “This is an AWFUL mistake”.
  • Low frustration Tolerance: “I can’t stand being around him/her”
  • Self Rating Oneself/Others: “I’m a bad person”, “She/he is worthless

Learning to identify and modify irrational thoughts is a prime focus during therapy. This belief system is also imperative in bringing an effective change in the overall experiences that an individual has (C).

The following are additions to the A-B-C model during therapy:

  • Disputing (D): After identifying irrational beliefs, clients are taught to dispute them using various methods, like using creative expressions, humor, etc.
  • Effective: Dealing with issues in the belief system that helps clients to form an effective philosophy for adaptive living.


Assessment in REBT is done in two ways:

  • Assessment of cognitions and behaviors

  • Applying the A-B-C model to identify issues

Both these methods continue throughout REBT. Thus, at different junctions, the therapist may re-assess cognitions and behavioral change and also identify irrational beliefs using these techniques. In addition, assessment through various psychological scales and tests is also encouraged to provide an in-depth analysis of client issues. For example, Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, etc.

Techniques Used

  • Cognitive: REBT allows a therapist to use a number of cognitive strategies to educate the client about the importance of rational thoughts. The cost-benefit analysis is one example of such a technique that involves evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of behaviors so as to decide a course of action. REBT therapists help their clients learn various problem-solving methods like using creative expressions, humor, etc.

  • Behavioural: Various behavioral techniques are used in REBT to help clients deal with irrational beliefs. For example, rewarding a client with appreciation if the client is able to identify irrational beliefs and alters one’s behavior accordingly.  
  • Emotional: Various emotive techniques applied in REBT aim at a successful change in the belief system.  For example, avoiding statements that use forceful words such as “must” or “should”.

As a cognitive approach, REBT has often been applied to different psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, etc. The emphasis on the belief system is what differentiates REBT from other psychotherapies in general. It helps clients to deal with issues actively and also helps in preventing further disturbances through online counseling.



1.Sharf, R. (2012). Theories of psychotherapy and counselling-concepts and cases. Belmont, CA:Brooks/Cole.

2.Dryden, W. (2009). Rational emotive behaviour therapy. East Sussex, UK:Routledge


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