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

ABCDE model.


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

threshold lies.


*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

the other.


*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

our interpretations).


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

healthy envy.


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

are true?

– 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