The revised ABC's of rational-emotive therapy (RET)

Conclusion

Although I was perceptive enough to realize, in my first paper on rational-emotive therapy (RET) in 1956, that cognitions, emotions, and behaviors almost always are not pure or disparate but significantly include each other, I have appreciably added to this concept and have stressed forceful emotive and educative, as well as strong behavioral, techniques of RET in recent years. I have also increasingly pointed out that the ABC's of RET-A standing for Activating Events, B for Beliefs about these events, and C for emotional and behavioral Consequences of these Beliefs-also influence, include, and interact with each other. The present paper gives salient details of how A's, B's, and C's, as well as cognitions, emotions, and behaviors all importantly affect one another and how they become combined into dysfunctional, demanding core Basic Philosophic Assumptions that lead to neurotic disturbances. To change and to keep changing these dysfunctional basic assumptions, RET uses a number of intellectual, affective, and action techniques that often are applied in a forceful, persistent, active-directive manner. It is more cognitive than most of the other cognitive-behavior therapies in that it tries to help many (not all) clients to make an elegant or profound philosophic change (Ellis, 1979b, 1985b). But it is also more emotive and behavioral than most other popular therapies in that it assumes that neurotic individuals' core basic philosophies assumptions are, as Muran (in press) points out, “tacit cognitive-affective-motoric structures that account for emotional experiences in the face of external stimuli,” and that therefore therapists had better teach their clients (and the general public) several powerful cognitive-emotive-behavioral methods of helping themselves change.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Beck, A.T., & Emery, G. (1985).Anxiety disorders and phobias. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Beck, A.T., Ruch, A.J., Shaw, B.F., & Emery, G. (1979).Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bernard, M.E. (1986).Staying alive in an irrational world: Albert Ellis and rational-emotive therapy. South Melbourne, Australia: Carlson/Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bernard, M.E., & DiGiuseppe, R. (1989).Inside rational-emotive therapy. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Brown, G. & Beck, A.T. (1989). The role of imperatives in psychopathology: A reply to Ellis.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 13, 315–321.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Crawford, T. (1990, May 7, May 11, May 26). Letters to Albert Ellis.

  7. DeSilvestri, C. (1989). Clinical models in RET: An advanced model of the organization of emotional and behavioral disorders.Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 7, 51–58.

    Google Scholar 

  8. DiGiuseppe, R. (1986). The implication of the philosophy of science for rational-emotive theory and therapy.Psychotherapy, 23, 634–639.

    Google Scholar 

  9. DiGiuseppe, R.A., Miller, N.J., & Trexler, L.D. (1979). A review of rational-emotive psychotherapy outcome studies. In A. Ellis & J.M. Whiteley (Eds.),Theoretical and empirical foundations of rational-emotive therapy (pp. 218–235). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Dryden, W. (1984). Rational-emotive therapy. In W. Dryden (Ed.),Individual therapy in Britain, (pp. 235–263). London: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Ellis, A. (1956). An operational reformulation of some of the basic principles of psychoanalysis. In H. Feigl & M. Scriven (Eds.),The foundations of science and the concepts of psychology and psychoanalysis. (pp. 131–154). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. (Also:Psychoanalytic Review, 43, 163–180).

    Google Scholar 

  12. Ellis, A. (1957).How to live with a neurotic: At home and at work. New York: Crown. Rev. ed., Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Books, 1975.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Ellis, A. (1958). Rational psychotherapy.Journal of General Psychology, 59, 35–49. Reprinted: New York: Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Ellis, A. (1962).Reason and emotion in psychotherapy. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Ellis, A. (1968).Homework report. New York: Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Ellis, A. (1969a). A cognitive approach to behavior therapy.International Journal of Psychiatry, 8, 896–900.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Ellis, A. (1969b). A weekend of rational encounter.Rational Living, 4(2), 1–8. Reprinted in A. Ellis & W. Dryden,The practice of rational-emotive therapy. New York: Springer, 1987.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Ellis, A. (1971).Growth through reason. North Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Books.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Ellis, A. (1972).Psychotherapy and the value of a human being. New York: Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy. Reprinted in A. Ellis & W. Dryden,The Essential Albert Ellis. New York: Springer, 1990.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Ellis, A. (1973).Humanistic psychotherapy: The rational-emotive approach. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Ellis, A. (1976). RET abolishes most of the human ego.Psychotherapy, 13, 343–348. Reprinted: New York: The Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Ellis, A. (1977).Anger—how to live with and without it. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Ellis, A. (1979a). Rational-emotive therapy: Research data that support the clinical and personality hypotheses of RET and other modes of cognitive-behavior therapy. In A. Ellis & J.M. Whiteley (Eds.),Theoretical and empirical foundations of rational-emotive therapy, (pp. 101–173). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Ellis, A. (1979b). Rejoinder: Elegant and inelegant RET. In A. Ellis & J.M. Whiteley (Eds.),Theoretical and empirical foundations of rational-emotive therapy (pp. 240–271). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Ellis, A. (1981). The place of Immanuel Kant in cognitive psychotherapy.Rational Living, 11(2), 13–16.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Ellis, A. (1983).The case against religiosity. New York: Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Ellis, A. (1984). The essence of RET—1984.Journal of Rational-Emotive Therapy, 2(1), 19–25.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Ellis, A. (1985a). Expanding the ABC's of rational-emotive therapy. In M. Mahoney & A. Freeman (Eds.)Cognition and psychotherapy (pp. 313–323). New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Ellis, A. (1985b).Overcoming resistance: Rational-emotive therapy with difficult clients. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Ellis, A. (1987a). The impossibility of achieving consistently good mental health.American Psychologist, 42, 364–375.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Ellis, A. (1987b). A sadly neglected cognitive element in depression.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 11, 121–146.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Ellis, A. (1989). A rational-emotive constructivist approach to couples and family therapy. In Ellis, A., Sichel, J., Yeager, R., DiMattia, D., & Di-Giuseppe, R.,Rational-emotive couples therapy (pp. 106–115). New York: Pergamon.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Ellis, A. (1990a). Is rational-emotive therapy (RET) “rationalist” or “constructivist”? In Ellis, A., & Dryden, W.,The essential Albert Ellis (pp. 114–141). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Ellis, A. (1990b). Rational and irrational beliefs in counselling psychology.Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 8, 221–233.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Ellis, A. (in press, a). A rational-emotive approach to peace.Journal of Cognitive Therapy, Boston, August 10.

  36. Ellis, A. (in press, b). First- and second-order change in rational-emotive therapy: A reply to Lyddon.Journal of Counseling and Development,70.

  37. Ellis, A., & Dryden, W. (1987).The practice of rational-emotive therapy. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Ellis, A., & Dryden, W. (1990).The essential Albert Ellis. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Ellis, A., & Dryden, W. (1991).A dialogue with Albert Ellis. Stony Stratford, England: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Ellis, A., & Grieger, R. (Eds.). (1977).Handbook of rational-emotive therapy. Vol. 1. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Ellis, A., & Grieger, R. (Eds.). (1986).Handbook of rational-emotive therapy. Vol. 2. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Ellis, A., & Harper, R.A. (1975).A new guide to rational living. North Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Books.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Ellis, A., Sichel, J., Yeager, R., DiMattia, D., & DiGiuseppe, R. (1989).Rational emotive couples therapy. New York: Pergamon.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Ellis, A., & Watzlawick, P. (Speakers). (1986).Debate: Direct vs. indirect psychotherapy. Cassette recording. Garden Grove, CA: InfoMedix and Milton H. Erickson Foundation.

  45. Ellis, A., & Zeig, J. (Speakers). (1988).Dialogue. Cassette recording. Garden Grove, CA: InfoMedix and Milton H. Erickson Foundation.

  46. Engels, G.I., & Diekstra, R.F.W. (1986). Meta-analysis of rational emotive therapy outcome studies. In P. Eelen & O. Fontaine (Eds.),Behavior therapy: Beyond the Conditioning Framework (pp. 121–140). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Epstein, S. (1990). Cognitive experiential self-theory. In L. Pervin (Ed.),Handbook of personality and research. New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Freud, S. (1920/1959).Beyond the pleasure principle. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Glasser, W. (1965).Reality therapy. New York: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Goldfried, M.R. & Davison, G.C. (1976).Clinical behavior therapy. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Greenberg, L.S. & Safran, J.D. (1984). Integrating affect and cognition: A perspective on the process of therapeutic change.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 8, 591–598.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Grieger, R. (1985). From a linear to a contextual model of the ABCs of RET.Journal of Rational-Emotive Therapy, 3(2), 75–99.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Grieger, R. (1990). Personal communication.

  54. Guidano, V.F. (1988). A systems, process oriented approach to cognitive therapy. In K. S. Dobson (Ed.),Handbook of cognitive behavior therapies (pp. 307–356). New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Guidano, V.F., & Liotti, G. (1983).Cognitive processes and emotional disorders. New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Haaga, D.A., & Davison, G.C. (1989). Outcome studies of rational-emotive therapy. In M.E. Bernard & R. DiGiuseppe, Eds.,Inside rational-emotive therapy (pp. 155–197). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Heidegger, M. (1962).Being and time. New York: Harper and Row.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Hollon, S.D., & Bemis, K.M. (1981). Self-report and the assessment of cognitive functions. In M. Hersen & A.S. Bellack (Eds.),Behavioral Assessment (pp. 125–174). New York: Pergamon.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Jorm, A.P. (1987). Modifiability of a personality trait which is a risk factor for neurosis. Paper presented at World Psychiatric Association, Reykjavik.

  60. Kant, I. (1929).Critique of pure reason. New York: St. Martin's. (Original pub., 1798).

    Google Scholar 

  61. Kelly, G. (1955).The psychology of personal constructs. 2 vols. New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Lazarus, A.A. (1971).Behavior therapy and beyond. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Lazarus, R. (1991). Cognition and motivation in emotion.American Psychologist, 46, 352–367.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  64. Ledwidge, B. (1978). Cognitive behavior modifications: A step in the wrong direction.Psychological Bulletin, 85, 353–375.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  65. Lyddon, W.J. (1990). First- and second-order change: Implications for rationalist and constructivist therapies.Journal of Counseling and Development, 69, 122–127.

    Google Scholar 

  66. Lyons, L.C., & Woods, P.J. (in press). The efficacy of rational-emotive therapy: A qualitative review of the outcome research.Clinical Psychology Review.

  67. Mahoney, M.J. (1977). Personal science: A cognitive learning theory. In A. Ellis & R. Grieger (Eds.)Handbook of rational-emotive therapy (pp. 352–366). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Mahoney, M.J. (1988). The cognitive sciences and psychotherapy: Patterns in a developing relationship. In K.S. Dobson (Ed.),Handbook of the cognitive-behavioral therapies (pp. 357–386). New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Maultsby, M.C., Jr. (1984).Rational behavior therapy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  70. Maultsby, M.C., Jr., & Ellis, A. (1974).Technique for using rational emotive imagery. New York: Institute for Rational Emotive Therapy.

    Google Scholar 

  71. McGovern, T.E., & Silverman, M.S. (1984). A review of outcome studies of rational-emotive therapy from 1977–1982.Journal of Rational-Emotive Therapy, 2(1), 7–18.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Meichenbaum, D. (1977).Cognitive-behavior modification. New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Meichenbaum, D. (1990). Cognitive-behavior modification. Invited address to Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference, Anaheim, CA, December 13.

  74. Muran, J.C. (in press). A reformulation of the ABC model in cognitive psychotherapies: Implications for assessment and treatment.Clinical Psychology Review.

  75. Popper, K.R. (1985).Popper Selections. Ed. by David Miller. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  76. Rachlin, H. (1977). Reinforcing and punishing thoughts.Behavior Therapy, 8, 659–665.

    Google Scholar 

  77. Raimy, V. (1975).Misunderstandings of the self. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  78. Rorer, L.G. (1989). Rational-emotive theory: An integrated psychological and philosophical basis.Cognitive Therapy and Research.

  79. Schwartz, R.M. (1982). Cognitive-behavior modification: A conceptual review.Clinical Psychology Review, 2, 267–293.

    Google Scholar 

  80. Seligman, M.E.P. (1991).Learned optimism. New York: Knopf.

    Google Scholar 

  81. Skinner, B.F. (1971).Beyond freedom and dignity. New York: Knopf.

    Google Scholar 

  82. Smith, T.W., & Allred, K.D. (1986). Rationality revisited: A reassessment of the empirical support for the rational-emotive model. In P.C. Kendall (Ed.),Advances in cognitive-behavioral research and therapy (Vol. 5) (pp. 63–87). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  83. Wessler, R.L. (1984). Alternative conceptions of rational-emotive therapy: Toward a philosophically neutral psychotherapy. In M.A. Reda & M.L. Mahoney (Eds.),Cognitive psychotherapies: Recent developments in theory, research and practice (pp. 65–79). Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.

    Google Scholar 

  84. Wessler, R.L., & Hankin-Wessler, S.W.R. (1986). Cognitive appraisal therapy. In W. Dryden & W. Golden (Eds.),Cognitive-behavioural approaches to psychotherapy (pp. 196–223). London: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

  85. Wessler, R.A., & Wessler, R.L. (1980).The principles and practice of rational-emotive therapy. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  86. Wolfe, J.L., & Naimark, H. (1991). Psychological messages and social context: Strategies for increasing RET's effectiveness with women. In M. Bernard (Ed.),Using rational-emotive therapy effectively. New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  87. Woods, P.J. (1987a). Do you really want to maintain that a flat tire can upset your stomach? Using the findings of the psychophysiology of stress to bolster the argument that people are not directly disturbed by events.Journal of Rational-Emotive Therapy, 5, 149–161.

    Google Scholar 

  88. Woods, P.J. (1987b). Reductions in type A behavior, anxiety, anger, and physical illness as related to changes in irrational beliefs.Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 5, 213–237.

    Google Scholar 

  89. Woods, P.J. (1990, October 23). Personal communication.

  90. Woods, P.J., & Lyons, L.C. (1990). Irrational beliefs and psychosomatic disorders.Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 8, 3–20.

    Google Scholar 

  91. Woods, P.J., Silverman, E.S., Gentilini, J.M., & Cunningham, D.K. (1990, June). Cognitive variables related to suicidal contemplation in adolescents with implications for long-range prevention. Paper presented at the World Congress on Mental Health Counseling, Keystone, CO.

  92. Yankura, J., & Dryden, W. (1990).Doing RET: Albert Ellis in action. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

Albert Ellis is President of the Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy, 45 East 65th Street, New York, NY, 10021

This is an expanded version of the paper given at The Evolution of Psychotherapy: A Conference, Anaheim, CA, December 14, 1990. Valuable suggestions on a first draft of the manuscript were made by Ted Crawford, Seymour Epstein, Russell Grieger, J. Christopher Muran, Hedwin Naimark, Gina Vega, Emmett Velten, Janet L. Wolfe, and Paul J. Woods. However, all responsibility for the content is that of the author.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ellis, A. The revised ABC's of rational-emotive therapy (RET). J Rational-Emot Cognitive-Behav Ther 9, 139–172 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01061227

Download citation

Keywords

  • Public Health
  • General Public
  • Behavioral Consequence
  • Basic Assumption
  • External Stimulus