Introduction for Clients and those Interested in Rational Emotive-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment Sessions
Dr. DePompo is a certified Cognitive Behavioral psychologist.
The following will help you understand better the
psychological, the emotional and the behavioral
changes that the therapy is aiming to bring about.
You may find it difficult to understand it at the first
reading, however, keep a copy of this with you, as you are likely
to find it very useful once you have started your therapy.
What is REBT – CBT?
REBT was originated by Dr Albert Ellis of New
York in 1955 and it is the original CBT. Other approaches
followed, but there are limited differences
between their theoretical approaches. The psychological
approaches of REBT-CBT are based on scientific
principles and research has shown them to be
effective for a wide range of problems. You and I will
work as a team to identify and understand problems
in terms of the relationship between thoughts, beliefs,
feelings and behavior. The approach usually
focuses on the present difficulties, and relies on us
developing a shared view of your problems. This
then leads to the identification personalized, time-limited
therapy goals and strategies which are carefully
monitored and evaluated.
REBT-CBT not only works with individuals, but
is also found to be very effective with couples, families
and group therapies. Moreover, the approaches
can be used to help anyone irrespective of ability,
culture, race, gender or sexual preference.
What will happen in your therapy?
In the sessions, you and I work together to:
1. develop a shared understanding of your problems.
2. identify how these problems affect your thoughts,
beliefs, behaviors, feelings and daily functioning.
Based on the understanding of your problems we
will then work together as a team to identify goals
and to agree on a shared treatment plan. The focus
of therapy is to enable you to generate solutions to
your problems that are more helpful than the way
you have been dealing with them so far. This also
involves using your time between therapy sessions
practicing your therapeutic gains (i.e. homework
Therapy is organized over an agreed number of
sessions (usually between 8 to 16 ). The number of
sessions needed will differ, depending on the nature
and severity of your problems. Typically, sessions
are inially weekly and last 50 minutes. After the completion
of treatment I usually advise a limited number of
follow-up sessions or a booster session, to maintain
the therapeutic gains and achieve more progress.
What kind of methods will be used in the
Essentially you will learn many important cognitive
and behavioral skills during your therapy which
will be used by you to overcome your psychological,
emotional and behavioral problems. These will be
very useful in preventing any more disturbances in
the future and will help to capitalize on your therapeutic
The ABCDE model explained:
The most important instrument for self-care that
I hope you will learn during your therapy is the
The model is a simplified version of human cognition
(i.e. thoughts and beliefs) aiming to help people
to assess their target problems carefully, investigate
their thoughts and beliefs about their target problems
and disputes any found irrational thoughts and
beliefs that are found, as they are assumed to be the
main causes of emotional and behavioral dysfunctions
in human beings.
After analyzing the problem and disputing the irrational
cognition, the model will lead you to create
an alternate rational cognition that can help you to
develop healthy emotions and behavior, which are
most likely to help you in activating your goals in
What do these letters ABCDE stand for?
*A = activating events
Usually you, as any other human, will become aware
that something is going wrong in your life when you
are not achieving your goals.
Basically speaking, most human beings, if not all,
will have two major goals to achieve in their lifetime.
The first is to survive as long as possible and
the second is to be happy as much as possible, as
being alive is hardly enough for most people. Yet,
there are many events in life that can and will block
one or both of those basic goals at different stages
in our life. Unfortunately, some of these events will
be so severe that they are likely to activate our irrational
cognition, which in turn is likely to lead us
into emotional and behavioral disturbances.
However, or what event will activate the irrationality
and at what stage will differ greatly between
one individual and another. For example, not
all people will develop irrational cognition and depression
if or when they have lost their job. Why?
Because we all have different thresholds, which are
mainly based on our biological make-up, life experiences,
levels of education and so on. Therefore,
knowing your A’s will help you to know where your
*B = Beliefs
Beliefs is about what you believe about the interpretation
that you gave to the bad events that happened
for you at A. For example, you may have lost
your job and in order to make sense of this event
you may interpret it as an act against you. Now you
are left with the choice between believing that your
interpretation is true or untrue.
Basically, when it comes to beliefs, we need to
know if our beliefs are rational (rBs) or irrational
(iBs). Usually rBs are flexible, realistic and undemanding,
whereas iBs are rigid, unrealistic and demanding.
For example, if you are holding rBs about losing
your job, you may say something like this to yourself:
“It is really unfair that I had to lose my job,
but the world is an unfair place to be and I
have had the misfortune to experience that
kind of mishap. It’s very bad to lose my job
at this stage of my life, yet I can be grateful
that I did not experience something far worse
than that. It’s hard to go out there and look
for a new job, but I am overall a capable person
and I can find a way of bringing back an
income and comfort into my life, even if it is
not an easy task”.
On the other hand IBs would be something like
“It is really unfair that I lost my job, but it
absolutely should not have happened to me.
It is a real disaster. Who will ever want to
employ a useless person like me? How will I
ever be able to bring some income and comfort
into my life without a job? I am doomed,
my life means nothing without my job”.
The rBs and iBs coexist side by side as you can
see on the graph below. However, as stated earlier,
much depends on our threshold which will determine
which set of our beliefs will be the one to overrule
*C = Consequence
As stated earlier, the way that we will feel and act
after experiencing a bad event in our life will be
heavily dependant on our personal A+B (i.e. our
interpretation of the events and our beliefs about
If we have been rational overall after experiencing
a bad event it is likely that we will feel bad,
but not disturbed, and that means that we will act
to promote happiness in ourselves after recovering
from the initial shook. However, if we have been irrational
overall, that means that we will become too
disturbed to act in a self-helping way.
In REBT-CBT we see two kind of negative emotions:
one we call healthy negative emotions and the
other we call unhealthy negative emotions.
Many studies now show that the more unhealthy
negative emotions the person has, the more irrational
the person is. It is not clear yet if the emotions
are the cause of the rationality or vise versa. However,
what is clear is that when people suffer from
unhealthy negative emotions, they no longer suffer
from them or reduce them, once they have replaced
their irrational cognition with rational cognition.
The following emotions are regarded by
REBT-CBT as healthy negative emotions:
sadness, concern, healthy anger, regret,
disappointment, concern about relationship and
Whereas the following emotions are regarded
as unhealthy negative emotions:
Depression, anxiety, unhealthy anger, shame, hurt,
jealousy, unhealthy envy.
*D = Disputing irrational beliefs.
At this stage you will know what your Bs are and
now you need to test them to see if they are rBs or
Their are three systems by which you can do this:
1. “Empirical” disputing, where you ask yourself
questions such as;
– Where is the evidence that shows that my beliefs
– Where is the universal law that shows that my
beliefs are true?
2. “Logical” disputing, where you ask yourself
questions such as:
– Is it sensible to demand all that I will for?
– Is it logical to turn my desires into demands?
3. “Pragmatic” disputing, where you ask yourself
questions such as;
– Have my beliefs helped me so far?
– Have my beliefs been able to help me find solutions
to my problems?
*E = Effect
At this stage you will be able to create your own rBs
which will replace your iBs. You will learn to use
cognitive and behavioral modifications techniques
that will reinforce your rBs, which in turn will effect
your moods and actions for the better over time.
That is to say, are you not only going to feel better
but will become better.
Now don’t think that this kind of therapy is an
easy fix, it is not. In order to feel the therapy’s full
rewards you will have to work on yourself, (using
the skills you have learned with me) well after the
therapy has ended. After all, you will need to change
the cognition of a lifetime to the new cognition and
that is not easy. However, just because it is not an
easy option it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In other
words, don’t only think about the short term gains
that you may have from the therapy, but also think
about the long term gains that you can give yourself
by adopting your new rBs.
Feel free to E-mail or call me with any questions about what you have read.
Dr. Paul DePompo
Tel: 949 300-1952
Fax: 949 313-1723