Because of the many similarities between Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) many people, even professionals mistakenly believe REBT is a sub category of CBT. In fact, there are some very important differences between Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
One key is between REBT and CBT is that CBT is usually focused on individuals working on what Dr. Albert Ellis called, the “inelegant” solution whereas REBT is mostly focused on individual’s working on the “elegant” solution.
Here is a practical example to understand the difference:
Think about a guy who avoids going out socially because he is afraid that he might not fit in and people won’t like him. In CBT, the therapist asks questions like how do you know you won’t fit it or be liked? Can you think of similar situations where you were liked or you did fit in? Maybe this time things will be different? What are some of your strengths that people would notice and like?” etc. As you can begin to see, the focus is getting the client to believe that if he did go out, he would likely be successful in that at least some people would probably like him.
In REBT, the client would be asked, “So let’s suppose that you did go out and you didn’t fit in that well and no one liked you. What is so AWFUL about that? Do you need to base how you feel about yourself on what others think about you? Could you imagine just being disappointed rather than a major catastrophe if your worst concerns about going out turned out to be true? As you can begin to see, REBT seeks to attack the underlying negative core beliefs associated with the individual’s sense of self worth.
Another key difference between Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the forcefulness modeled by the therapist in challenging negative beliefs and the encouragement of the client to similarly practice very forceful and passionate disputing of the negative beliefs. For example, strongly and loudly say something like “I prefer but never NEED the love, acceptance or approval of others.” “Whenever I don’t get what I really want, it is disappointing but NEVER AWFUL”.
These are but two keys examples of the differences between Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy.