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Limitations

In an interview with Michael Broder (2001), Ellis stated, My basic goals are to push REBT, and to improve it so as to help more people use it.... I want REBT to be successful in the world. . . . I think that REBT and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) are going to help more people more of the time in an efficient manner than other therapies. (p. 85)

Although Ellis acknowledged that considerable research needs to be done, he stood firmly behind two predictions he made at the American Psychological Association annual convention in 1956 (Ellis, 1994, p. 418): that "REBT ... will prove more effective with more types of clients than any of the other kinds of psychotherapy that are now being widely employed" and that "A considerable amount of . . . REBT will prove to be the most effective type of psychological treatment that helps to minimize the basic neuroses ... of many clients, and particularly of many with whom other types of therapy have been shown to be relatively ineffective."

Despite limitations to this theory, Ellis (1994) maintained that REBT is not alone: "even the most effective forms of psychotherapy are, as yet, distinctly limited" (p. 331) because clients continue to hold onto their irrationalities and repeatedly behave in self-defeating ways even though they may have insight into the cause of their disturbances and improve slightly. Therefore, no matter how hard the counselor or therapist works, client resistance is often difficult to overcome.

Perhaps one of the biggest limitations of REBT has been the negative influence of Ellis himself, as he acknowledged; in his opinion, professionals have slighted or opposed REBT because "I am a charismatic individual, with characteristics which many of them find distasteful" (Ellis, 2001c, p. 69). He admitted that his public manner and use of four-letter words are controversial and unconventional and that his use of the term rational may be aversive to empirically minded psychologists. Because it is irrational to demand that Ellis change his style, professionals must recognize that they can adhere to the basic principles of this theory that has been used very effectively with adults as well as with children without emulating Ellis's style.

Summary Chart: Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Major Constructs

Rational emotive behavior therapy has a strong philosophical basis as well as commitment to the scientific method. The interconnectedness of thinking, feeling, and behaving is central to this theory, as is the notion that emotional distress results from dysfunctional thought processes.

Goals

The goal is to help clients develop a rational philosophy that will allow them to reduce their emotional distress and self-defeating behaviors.

Change Process

Change occurs as counselors or therapists help clients work through the A-B-C model of emotional disturbance, replacing irrational beliefs with rational alternatives that result in more moderate, healthy emotions and self-enhancing behaviors.

Interventions

A wide variety of cognitive, emotive, and behavioral interventions, including disputing, rational-emotive imagery, rational role playing, bibliotherapy, shame-attack exercises, and rational coping self-statements, are used.

Limitations

Limitations include the lack of outcome research and the overgeneralization that REBT is Albert Ellis. Although Ellis was the founder of the theory, numerous practitioners all over the world integrate the basic principles of this effective theory in their own style.

 
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