Rational-Emotive Therapy

When specific situations cause feelings like anxiety, anger or depressions this is—as Dr. Alber Ellis assumes—a result of errors in reasoning, wrong attitudes or convictions. Based on this insight he developed the rational-emotive therapy.

RET analyses thoughts and separates them into

  • morbid, irrational thoughts and
  • rational thoughts.

One example:

Mr. X has an important appointment. A few days before he is already like paralysed by fear; he can’t sleep and is unable to prepare for the conversation. Finally he resigns, full of self-contempt and depressions. Mr. Y is in the same situation. He is somewhat worried and pensive, but does his best to prepare for the appointment.

Now, a RET therapist would analyse how thoughts thoughts act on feelings and behaviours.

Mr. Y might think: “It would be a pity if I were rejected at this job interview.” He worries about this, but he still remains capable of acting; he thinks in a rational way.

Mr. X, however, thinks: “It would be catastrophic if they rejected me. It would annihilate me. I wouldn’t be able to bear that. I would be loser.” Mr. X is like paralysed and unable to make preparations; he reacts in an irrational way.

People who suffer from depressions often feel responsible for things that lies outside their control. Typical, morbid thoughts and statements of such patients are like: “I am good for nothing. It all makes no sense. I am a loser. Nobody is interested in me. Everything I try goes wrong. I don’t make it. Nobody can help me anyway.”

During the therapy session the therapist analyses the patient’s way of thinking and instructs them to observe themselves systematically. The patient learns to accept themselves, to question their own attitudes and to realise upcoming fears, depressions and anger in time. The patient becomes able to use strategies to prevent difficulties. Thus they learn to change old patterns of thought in order to achieve more of what they wish from life in the long term.