Cognitive Behavioral Theory Versus Rational Emotive Behavioral Theorywhinny
Running head: COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THEORY 1
Cognitive Behavioral Theory Versus Rational Emotive Behavioral Theory
Kayla C. Sharpe
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Cognitive Behavioral Theory Versus Rational Emotive Behavioral Theory
Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) and Rational Emotive Behavioral Theory (REBT)
are two psychotherapeutic techniques that are used in the treatment of mental health disorders.
CBT has been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of many emotional and behavioral
issues (Wheeler, 2014). CBT is often the treatment of choice for most patients who need internal
resources and enhanced coping skills (Wheeler, 2014). REBT is the original form and one of the
main pillars of CBT, and has served as the basis for the development of CBT (David et al.,
2018). In REBT, irrational beliefs are considered central factors of emotional distress (David et
al., 2018). The focus of REBT is changing irrational beliefs into rational beliefs, with the aim of
changing dysfunctional emotions and maladaptive behaviors into functional and adaptive ones
(David et al., 2018). As a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, it is important to
understand the implications of both CBT and REBT in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
This week’s assignment will focus on the similarities and differences between CBT and REBT,
and explain which therapy I will utilize as a future PMHNP.
Similarities Between Theories
As REBT is one of the main pillars of CBT, there are many similarities between the two
therapies. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that challenges negative patterns of thought about the
self and the outside world, in order to change unwanted behaviors. The basic premise of CBT is
that depression and anxiety are the result of cognitive distortions and these distortions are learned
errors in thinking (Wheeler 2014). The individual’s view of the self and the world is central to
the determination of emotions and behaviors and thus by changing one’s thoughts, emotions and
behaviors can also be changed (Wheeler, 2014). The premise of REBT is that mental illness
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comes from inappropriate thoughts, and the elements that make up these thoughts are irrational
beliefs (Xu & Liu, 2017). These beliefs are irrational, nonexperimental and non-functional and
do not confirm the realities of people's lives and cause emotional and behavioral harm (Xu &
Liu, 2017). These therapies focus on changing destructive thought processes that impact daily
lives, and there are many similarities between the two.
CBT and REBT are similar in that they include steps that allow an individual to complete
the cognitive, emotive, and behavioral homework that is assigned after each treatment (Iftene,
Predescu, Stefan, & David, 2015). The best outcomes for both of these therapies is typically seen
when completed with a therapist that specializes in CBT and REBT (Iftene et al., 2015). Both
CBT and REBT teach individuals how they can use their negative patterns of thinking to shape
their future thoughts into more functional and constructive ones (Iftene et al., 2015). These
therapies focus on changing dysfunctional and irrational thoughts so that individuals are able to
break the cycle of emotional disturbance and self-sabotaging behaviors (Iftene et al., 2015).
Differences Between Theories
Along with similarities, there are also differences between CBT and REBT, and how they
should be approached in the treatment of psychological disorders. CBT focuses on altering the
person’s view of themselves, whereas REBT focuses on the beliefs that cause the certain
behavior. For example, REBT distinguishes between rational and irrational beliefs, and suggests
that in response to failure, maltreatment, and misfortune, people can react with either healthy or
unhealthy emotional and behavioral responses (Turner, 2016). This could be helpful in the
treatment of anxiety and depression, as the client could identify how their beliefs influence their
behaviors and therefore their mental health. Another difference between CBT and REBT, is that
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REBT addresses the philosophical foundation of cognitive distortions, which are the focus of
CBT. REBT places this central idea or philosophy into an ABC framework where the event is
represented by the letter A (activating event or adversity), the beliefs are allocated the letter B,
and finally emotions and behaviors are represented by C (consequences) (Turner, 2016).
Inspired primarily by the Stoic philosophers, REBT holds that it is not the events that
directly cause emotions and behaviors, but one’s beliefs about the events that lead to emotional
and behavioral reactivity (Turner, 2016). REBT looks at the underlying reason for dysfunctional
thoughts, making the individual look deeper into the cause of their behaviors. Unlike with CBT,
REBT proposes a binary model of distress whereby healthy negative emotions (HNEs)
associated with adaptive behaviors stem from rational beliefs, whilst unhealthy negative
emotions (UNEs) associated with maladaptive behaviors stem from irrational beliefs (Turner,
2016). This allows providers to help clients identify rationality from irrational thinking, thereby
addressing cognitive distortions and behaviors.
As a future PMHNP, it is important to understand both CBT and REBT, and what
resources these therapies provide to individuals under your care. As a provider, I hope to utilize
both of these therapies in the clinical setting, as they both serve a purpose in the treatment of
psychological disorders. Dr. Aaron Beck states that therapy should be easily interlocked with
theory so that you can derive from the theory a particular set of therapeutic devices (Beck, 1994).
This means that when using either CBT, REBT, or a combination of both, utilizing the
therapeutic devices taught within the theory will be beneficial to your practice and the therapy
provided to patients. These theories are based on treatment plans that have been conceptualized
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and tested, and guide the provider through each action, session, and overall plan of care
(Wheeler, 2014). I believe that both CBT and REBT provide a framework that allow individuals
to truly change their negative thought processes, therefore changing their overall wellbeing.
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Beck, A. (1994). Aaron Beck on cognitive therapy [Video file]. Mill Valley, CA:
David, D., Cotet, C., Matu, S., Mogoase, C., & Stefan, S. (2018). 50 years of rational-emotive
and cognitive-behavioral therapy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of
Clinical Psychology, 74(3), 304–318.
Iftene, F., Predescu, E., Stefan, S., & David, D. (2015). Rational-emotive and cognitive-behavior
therapy (REBT/CBT) versus pharmacotherapy versus REBT/CBT plus pharmacotherapy
in the treatment of major depressive disorder in youth; A randomized clinical trial.
Psychiatry Research, 225(3), 687–694.
Turner, M. J. (2016). Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Irrational and Rational
Beliefs, and the Mental Health of Athletes. FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY, 7.
Wheeler, K. (Ed.). (2014). Psychotherapy for the advanced practice psychiatric nurse: A how-to
guide for evidence-based practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing
Xu, L., & Liu, H. (2017). Effects of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) Intervention
Program on Mental Health in Female College Students. NEUROQUANTOLOGY, 15(4),