Far and away the most commonly practiced psychotherapy for panic disorder and anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). But I’d like to discuss its lesser known predecessor, rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT).
REBT was developed in the mid-1950’s by clinical psychologist, Albert Ellis, who many consider the grandfather of CBT.
Very basically, here’s REBT in model format…
A = Activating Event
B = Belief System of the Individual
C = Consequences of Emotion and Behavior
Dr. Ellis proposed that when intense emotional and behavioral consequences (C) occur, we most often blame the activating event (A). Ellis, however, suggests the real culprit behind our emotional and behavioral consequences is, in fact, our belief system (B); not the actual activating event (A). So Ellis presents the equation…
B = C
Instead of A = C
Well, let’s bring Ellis’s equation to a bit of real-life drama, so we can better understand it…
A Activating Event
Your car engine smokes every time you drive it and you don’t have the money to get it fixed.
B Belief System
You believe having a smoking engine, and not being able to pay for its repair, makes you a loser. I mean, your family deserves better than that. Furthermore, you believe if your car breaks down, and you can’t get it repaired, you and your family will be totally stranded and your lives will fall to pieces. And you’ll be an even bigger loser. Things just aren’t going your way. Dang, none of this fits with your basic beliefs of self and how your life should be unfolding.
C Consequences of Emotion and Behavior
All of this makes you feel intensely anxious, angry, frustrated, frightened, embarrassed, and ashamed. As a result, sleep is becoming tough to come by. You even threw the remote across the room when your daughter asked you to help her with her homework last night. And every day you go on swearing at that car of yours for making your life, and the lives of your family, miserable. Lord only knows you have nothing to do with it, and aren’t at all responsible for the emotional and behavioral fallout. It’s always the stupid car, and lack of money to get it fixed.
Okay, hold the phone. Remember, according to REBT…
A does not equal C
It’s all about B = C
Are we in agreement so far?
Well, keep an eye out for Part 2 of the series…