Rational-Emotive Therapy

Change your thoughts and you change your world.–Norman Vincent Peale.

Maybe you’ve had this experience before: you want to start up your own business, fly a plane, go to medical school, but the more you think about it the more roadblocks you put up in your way. Finally you decide you haven’t got what it takes and it was a dumb idea anyway. Down the road you meet people, like you, who had the same dreams, only they made theirs come true. What do they have, that you don’t? One thing–belief in themselves. This is the heart of rational-emotive therapy: changing the irrational, unrealistic ideas or self-statements people have. It helps people feel more confidence and control in their lives, so they can reach the goals they are capable of achieving.

Rational-emotive therapy was developed by a psychologist named Albert Ellis, who believes that most of the emotional problems people have are rooted in their irrational views of the world and their incorrect assumptions. These lead to self-defeating internal dialogues, which influence what people do.

Ellis described this thought-feeling-behavior link as an A-B-C relationship. “A” stands for the activity or circumstance (i.e. I want to start up my own catering business) which causes “B,” a rational belief (I’ve taken loads of cooking classes, worked for three summers in a restaurant, and I love to cook), and “C,” a rational consequence (Culinary Capers Catering Company). An irrational belief “B*,” (Who am I kidding: I can’t start a catering business when I’ve never worked for a catering company before)” however, could cause an irrational consequence, “C*,” (I might as well forget it; I’ll never get out of this crummy job).