Using Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Athletes to Reduce Irrational Beliefs and Increase Unconditional Self-Acceptance

  • Rachel Cunningham
  • Martin J. TurnerEmail author
Empirically-Based Case Studies


The reported application of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) with athletes is growing but remains scarce within sport psychology literature. This study used a single-case multiple-baseline across participants design to investigate the effects of REBT on irrational self-depreciation beliefs and unconditional self-acceptance (USA) with three male mixed martial arts (MMA) athletes. Visual and statistical analyses indicate a reduction in total irrationality and self-depreciation and an increase in USA, which was maintained at 6 months post-REBT for two of the three athletes. Social validation data revealed positive changes in emotion management and performance in all athletes. The mechanisms by which REBT promoted changes in self-depreciation and USA are discussed as are recommendations regarding the future implementation of REBT with athletes.


Case study Applied sport psychology Counseling Intervention Combat sports 



The authors would like to acknowledge Andrew Wood, Staffordshire University, for his work on the statistical analyses of data.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Sport, Health and Exercise ResearchStaffordshire UniversityStoke on TrentUK

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