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Understanding Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

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Understanding Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

If we stop and think about it, it is pretty wild the way we treat or think about ourselves sometimes. This is especially true for those of us who struggle with issues of addiction and/or mental health. There is a question that is often asked in 12-Step programs when a member begins to get too down on themself. They ask, “Would you treat anyone else the way you are treating yourself right now?” Of course, the answer is almost always no, because we tend to treat ourselves much worse than we would anyone else. Luckily, rational emotive behavior therapy can help with this.

Addiction, Mental Illness, and the Negative Cycle of Thoughts and Emotions

Mental illness and addiction are often defined by the way in which they run through cycles that negatively affect our lives. For example, someone who struggles with an anxiety disorder will feel the symptoms of anxiety when the disorder is active. Then when they realize that they are doing okay, they may get anxious about the next time they will be symptomatic again. Ultimately, they either feel anxious or they feel anxious about feeling anxious. Clearly, this is a vicious cycle.

The same is true when it comes to addiction. For example, an individual who struggles with active alcohol addiction may become depressed about not being able to stop drinking. However, due to the negative cycle of thought and emotions, this individual will treat this depression with more alcohol use. It is negative behaviors influencing negative thoughts and emotions, which in turn influence more negative behaviors. Again, a vicious cycle. However, it is one that may be treated by using rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT).

What Exactly Is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Okay, so the first rational question regarding REBT must be, “What exactly is it?” According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, “Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is the original form and one of the main pillars of cognitive‐behavioral therapies (CBT),” and “In REBT, irrational beliefs are considered central factors of emotional distress, so the focus is on changing irrational beliefs into rational beliefs, with the aim of changing dysfunctional emotions and maladaptive behaviors into functional and adaptive ones.”

Now, many people, even outside of the recovery realm, may have heard of cognitive‐behavioral therapy (CBT), but REBT is not as well known (though, as previously mentioned, it came first). So, the next reasonable question could be “What is the difference between REBT and CBT?” The answer can be found in two words; “personal appraisal.”

While CBT is more about assessing how we internally describe ourselves, REBT is more about how we praise and evaluate ourselves. Now, in people struggling with issues of addiction and/or mental illness, these appraisals and evaluations are generally pretty low and can be very detrimental.

The Benefits of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Now, as with most other types of addiction and mental health treatments, REBT comes with both benefits and limitations. The following are just a few of the benefits that REBT has to offer:

  • Builds self-confidence, self-awareness, and self-esteem
  • Helps control negative behaviors, and offers coping mechanisms to handle negative behaviors at the moment
  • Can help people struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) reduce their cravings and obsessive thinking
  • Reduces stress
  • Helps with issues of anxiety and depression
  • Can improve sleep patterns
  • Works well with people who are struggling with co-occurring disorders of addiction and mental illness

The Limitations of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Now, that we have seen some of the benefits, the following are just a few of REBT’s limitations:

  • It requires a specific type of psychotherapist to administer the treatment
  • REBT can be more expensive than some other types of treatments
  • It requires a lot of engagement from the individual
  • Some people have trouble accessing and addressing their irrational thoughts
  • It is not suited for all issues of mental illness or addiction; some may be too severe for REBT
  • Some professionals criticize REBT by claiming that it focuses on cognition too much and doesn’t focus on emotions enough

The Importance of Individualized and Comprehensive Treatment Plans at Lantana Recovery

When it comes to REBT, it is important to understand that it is only one treatment in a myriad of effective options. That is why we here at Lantana Recovery, believe in the importance of individualized and comprehensive treatment plans.

Yes, we truly believe in the efficacy of REBT, but we also offer many other effective evidence-based treatments. Many of which we have found can help to elevate the benefits of REBT, as well as increase the likelihood of a successful long-term recovery for our clients.

There is also another saying that can often be heard in the rooms of 12-step recovery programs. It goes, “We’re here to love you until you learn to love yourself,” which is the embodiment of what we do here at Lantana Recovery.

It is easy for anyone to get caught up in their thoughts and expectations of themselves, but many individuals struggle with the negative effects this has on them. This is especially true for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues, as they can get trapped in a cycle of thoughts and emotions that is utterly negative. At Lantana Recovery, we offer rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). REBT helps our clients restructure their thoughts and emotions into more positive and productive sources. For more information on REBT, who it is best suited for, how it aids addiction and mental health recovery, and what clients can expect from REBT sessions, please reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.