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EVALUATION

Overview

Ellis (1996) acknowledged that he was prejudiced, but he maintained that REBT is more likely to help people achieve "deeper and more lasting emotional and behavioral change than other methods of therapy" (p. 1). He noted that usually clients can improve significantly in 10 to 20 sessions, in individual as well as group therapy. In the following sections, supporting research and limitations are addressed.

Supporting Research

Smith and Glass (1977), in their meta-analytic review of psychotherapy outcome studies, concluded that REBT was the second-most effective psychotherapy, with systematic desensitization being first. However, because Ellis focused on theory and practice rather than research, REBT had a reputation of having insufficient empirical support. In an attempt to address this limitation, Lyons and Woods (1991) reported results from a meta-analysis of 70 outcome studies. They made a total of 236 comparisons of REBT with baseline, control groups, cognitive-behavioral modification, behavioral therapy, or other psychotherapies. Results indicated that subjects receiving REBT showed significant improvement over baseline measures and control groups. Many of these studies supported the efficacy of REBT for a wide array of problems, including stress, depression, anger, social anxiety, assertion, alcohol abuse, weight issues, behavior problems, school underachievement, test anxiety, sexual fears and dysfunction, and performance and public speaking anxiety. However, Lyons and Woods cautioned that the majority of studies did not report on follow-up data, making it difficult to determine the long-term effects of this counseling or therapy.

Several other studies suggested that REBT can be useful for practitioners in school or clinical settings. Sapp, Farrell, and Durand (1995) improved academic performance of African American children using an REBT program. Graves (1996) demonstrated that a parent training program reduced stress and improved parenting skills in parents of children with Down syndrome. Shannon and Allen (1998) showed that students who participated in an REBT-based skill training program had better grades than peers in a control group and scored higher on a standardized math test.

More recently, David, Szentagotai, Lupu and Cosman (2008) conducted research on the effectiveness of REBT, cognitive therapy, and medication in treating depression. Their findings indicated that the REBT and cognitive therapy were more effective than medication 6 months after treatment and that effectively restructuring irrational beliefs also contributes to relapse prevention. Sciacchitano, Lindner, and McCracken (2009) found support for the REBT model in a study they conducted to investigate how secondary beliefs mediated the relationship between arthritis sufferers and their ability to cope.

Ellis (2001c) noted that there are numerous reasons for the lack of solid outcome studies. First, because REBT endorses the use of many cognitive, emotive, and behavioral techniques, it is more difficult to test the effectiveness of these techniques, and this has been discouraging for researchers. Furthermore, written tests are an inadequate way to get at clients' beliefs and their unconscious shoulds and musts. A compounding problem is the fact that the Albert Ellis Institute, which could have been a significant instigator of solid outcome research, has traditionally been a counseling or therapy training institute as opposed to an academic research institute. As such, it has attracted mental health practitioners who are more interested in learning how to effectively help others than in doing research. At the present time, however, several efforts are under way at the institute to promote quality research.

 
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