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Ellis vs. Beck, exhibit B
Jim Pretzer · 8/18/99 at 10:45 pm ET
I agree with Willie's points in the previous post. He's done a good job of highlighting some of the differences. Another difference is that the therapist in CT tries to work collaboratively with the client to jointly examine the client's thoughts and beliefs while the therapist in REBT often takes a more confrontational, disputational stance. Cognitive therapists think that a collaborative relationship minimizes resistance and maximizes the client's active involvement. Thus, it should produce better results. However, I'm not aware of any empirical evidence that this is the case.
I'm also not aware of any empirical comparisons of the effectiveness of REBT vs CT. My bet is that there would be enough variation between the practitioners of each approach that it would be hard to demonstrate consistent differences. CT does have a stronger empirical base simply because it has been researched more.
I don't know of any one reading that discusses all of the differences between the two approaches, but here are several readings which present Ellis's current views and some of the controversies within REBT:
- Weinrach, S. G. Nine experts describe the essence of rational-emotive therapy while standing on one foot. (1996). Journal of Counseling & Development, 74,) 326-331. ABSTRACT Determined the extent of agreement among a panel of rational-emotive therapy (RET) experts about the essence of RET. The panel consisted of the 9 members of The International Training Standards and Review Committee of the Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy in New York. The question asked of the experts was an adaptation of a Talmudic story known in Jewish lore as "While Standing on One Foot" (wherein a heathen said to a rabbi, "If you can teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot, you can make me a Jew.") Responses were assigned to either of 2 categories: general cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) or RET-specific. There seems to be a range of responses that capture the essence of RET. A strong case can be made for subsuming many aspects of CBT under RET because much of what is associated with CBT has its origins in RET. The confusion about where RET ends and general CBT begins goes to the very heart of RET's status.
- Ellis, A. (1997). Extending the goals of behavior therapy and of cognitive behavior therapy, Behavior Therapy. 28, 333-339. ABSTRACT For the past half century, traditional behavior therapy has done a credible job of helping clients to alleviate their dysfunctional feelings and behaviors and to maintain this improvement. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), and some other forms of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), have added to behavior therapy's record of success by including cognitive and philosophic restructuring techniques that aim to help some clients not only to feel better, but to become less disturbed and less disturbable. Unlike more traditional forms of behavior therapy, REBT and CBT often lead to profound and more lasting attitudinal change in clients, including anti-musturbation, unconditional self-acceptance, unconditional other-acceptance, high frustration tolerance, anti-awfulizing, and minimal overgeneralizing. Such lasting attitudinal changes, and understanding the process and mechanisms by which they are achieved, may enhance and extend the goals of behavior therapy into the next millennium.
- Reitman, D. The relation between cognitive and behavioral therapies: Commentary on "Extending thegoals of behavior therapy and of cognitive behavior therapy." (1997) Behavior Therapy, 28, 341-345 ABSTRACTComments on the article by A. Ellis (1997), which describes how Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) can be distinguished from behavior therapy (BT) and, perhaps more significantly, how it "adds" to BT. Among the issues raised by Ellis is the suggestion that traditional BT may lead only to temporary or superficial behavior changes, and that the goals of BT should be extended to include more comprehensive and enduring "personality change." The author discusses the underlying medical model adopted by cognitive therapists, the empirical data that bear on the issue of "adding" to BT, and an alternative framework to evaluate clinical practice. It is suggested that there are more similarities among therapists, and their therapies, than differences. Thus, as C. Ferster (1972) suggested, more effort should be devoted to studying what successful therapists do, and less to arguing the merits of therapists' theoretically informed explanations for success.
- Wessler, R. L. (1996) Idiosyncratic definitions and unsupported hypotheses: Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy as pseudoscience. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 14, 41-61 ABSTRACT Presents concerns of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) concepts, scientific foundations, practice, and philosophy. The following criticisms are discussed and documented:
REBT's concepts lack adequate and consistent definitions; its distinctive hypotheses are not confirmed by empirical data and are untestable; its scientific foundations fall outside mainstream psychology; and contrary to what it claims, its practice and philosophy are not consistent with the use of reason in psychotherapy. The theoretical critique focuses on the musturbation axiom, ABC theory, parallel processes model, and apparent inconsistencies resulting from a unidirectional model. It is noted that practitioners may not be aware of the unsubstantiated claims and theoretical assumptions inherent in REBT and that they adopt these assumptions when practicing REBT.
- Bond, F. W.; Dryden, W. (1996) Why two, central REBT hypotheses appear untestable. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive Behavior Therapy. 14, 29-40. ABSTRACT Argues that 2 of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy's (REBT's) central hypotheses, the core and the primacy of the musts hypotheses, are untestable. The interdependence principle that REBT maintains suggests that cognitions, emotions, and behavior are part of an interdependent system, and as such, none of the system's 3 elements can be measured separately from the others. This interdependence principle cannot establish that cognitions are at the core of psychological disturbance and health. The interdependence principle also prevents primacy of the musts hypothesis from being examined. This hypothesis states that musts are at the very core of psychological disturbance and the other 3 irrational beliefs are derived from these musts. Irrespective of the interdependence principle and the core hypothesis, the primacy of the musts hypothesis is also apparently untestable due to the current inability to measure musts adequately.
- Ellis, A. (1996) Responses to criticisms of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) by Ray DiGuiseppe, Frank Bond, Windy Dryden, Steve Weinrach, and Richard Wessler. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 14, 97-121. ABSTRACT Responds to the criticisms of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) by R. DiGiuseppe, F. W. Bond and W. Dryden, R. L. Wessler, and S. G.. Weinrach. Points raised about the untestability of the REBT hypotheses on the primacy of absolutistic musts and of the distinction between healthy and unhealthy emotions are considered and answered.
- DiGiuseppe, R. The nature of irrational and rational beliefs: Progress in Rational Emotive Behavior theory. (1996). Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 14(1) 5-28. ABSTRACT Examines limitations of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) including its definition of irrational and rational beliefs and its position that demandingness is at the center of irrational thinking and emotional disturbance. Theoretical amendments are outlined. It is proposed that irrational beliefs are core schemes and that the concept of schema replace the present definition of beliefs. It is also proposed that demandingness and self-downing may be separate types of core irrational schemes. Research strategies are suggested that could test the centrality of demandingness and on the nature of irrational beliefs in general. Hypotheses are offered in areas where REBT fails to identify which level of abstraction is necessary to cause disturbance, at which level of abstraction therapists should seek change, and whether a therapist should intervene first at higher or lower levels of abstract beliefs.
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