Ellis And Glasser Albert Ellis and William Glasser have been in the mainstream of psychological society for over four decades. Both have contributed greatly to modern psychotherapy. The Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) of Albert Ellis and the Reality therapy of William Glasser have endured the trendy world of psychology and in fact as they are based in ancient philosophy (Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius), they also remain the foundation for brief therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and ecclectisism. Their strength is in the flexibility and simplicity inherent in each. They go directly to the problem and focus energy there without lengthy psychotherapy.
Both prolific writers and dedicated therapists have expanded their views and adapted with the times. They are true humanists in that through non-profit organizations they have been able to alleviate much human suffering by providing sources for personal and professional growth. In 1955, Albert Ellis used the fundamental concept of truth and logic to help people overcome the obstacles in their lives. By using mans’ high power of rationality Ellis has allowed us to use our cognitive abilities to overcome environmental or social situations. By 1975 Ellis combined Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) with Rational Behavior Training (RBT) and with the collaboration of many other noted therapists, created Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).
Ellis tells us in a new Guide to Rational Living (1975): I (A.E.) originated the system around the early part of 1955 and gave a first paper on it at the 1956 meeting of the American Psychological Association in Chicago Since that time, RET has gone through many minor and some major changes, originated by myself and some of my main collaborators-especially Dr. Robert A. Harper, Dr. H.Jon Geis, Edward Garcia, Dr. William Knause, Dr. John M. Gullo, Dr.
Paul Hauck, Dr. Donald R. Meichenbaum, Dr. Janet L. Wolf, Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus, Dr.
Aaron T. Beck, and (most notably) Dr. Maxie C. Maultsbie Jr. It has taken on other names than Ret-such as Rational Therapy (RT), semantic therapy, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and (quite popularly) rational behavior training (RBT)-(pg.202) Based on the strongest tenets of cognitive and behavioral therapy, REBT helps individuals to challenge the cause and effect relationships they believe exist between external events and their own emotional states. Ellis writes: RET employs an A-B-C method of viewing human personality and disturbance.
When trying to help a person, the therapist usually begins with C-the upsetting emotional Consequence that he [sic] has recently experienced. Typically he has been rejected by someone (this rejection can be called A, the Activating Experience) and then feels anxious, worthless or depressed at C. He wrongly believes that A, his being rejected has caused C, his feelings -; and he may even overtly voice this belief by saying something like, “She rejected me and that made me depressed.” The individual can be shown that A does not and cannot really cause C- that an Activating Event in the outside world cannot possibly create any feeling or emotional consequence in his head and gut. For if this were true virtually everyone who gets rejected would have to feel just as depressed as he does; and this is obviously not the case. C, then is really caused by some intervening variable, or by B; and B is the individuals belief system.
So there is the simplicity of Ellis and RET; the knowledge that the individual chooses to believe and behave in a way that causes the distress. The confrontational and often playful style of Ellis’s REBT helps people to recognize and change parts of their thinking that are insensible, inaccurate and not useful. The counselor then confronts the client with this truth and helps them move towards greater self – control. “Disputing” is the type of confronting the therapist uses to help people rethink those dysfunctional beliefs into more healthy and reasonable ones. In the example above, the dispute was whether the A caused C.
It is important for the client to be confronted with that disputation of his perception. It is not uncommon for Ellis to call irrational beliefs “nuttiness” or “nonsense” or “silly” or “idiotic”. Other disputations have to do with more complex or long standing personal beliefs that encumber the client. Statements like ” I am no good at reading, I will never get ahead!” or ” I am worthless no one will ever love me!” have no helpful, healthy basis for an individual’s thinking and may therefore be disputed or put to the test of logic. Logic implies that if something is true then it can be supported by fact. If it cannot be supported by fact, then it is an irrational belief. Ellis is quick to interject with “who said so?” or, “where is your proof of that?” or “where is it written?” The poor reader needs to learn that reading ability like the desire to grow for the better, are things that can be changed.
The lonely, insecure person need only understand that love can be reached like any other goal with a little work and perseverance. But Ellis can be very emphatic in pointing out the illogic of someone’s thinking. It is up to the therapist to teach clients new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving so that they can get better at reading to get ahead or to find a new loveable self-concept. But Ellis does not sugar coat the lessons, he is abrupt, direct, and confrontational. Ellis is like a father or coach or teacher when counseling. His REBT is both practical and goal oriented as it focuses on new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving towards personal fulfillment.
Goals like reading better to get ahead or creating a new self – image involve attacking those inner obstacles of irrational beliefs. He encourages strength and bravery in the battle for self-fulfillment. Emphasis is placed on individual responsibility to enhance personal growth and deal with problems through hard work. Clients strive to think, feel and behave in a more functional manner through practice and homework. Owning those irrational beliefs causing emotional distress and accepting that they are the real place to focus energy, is key to REBT. Ellis will not let anyone slide.
He may support and collaborate with the client to identify those existing problems to learn new behaviors. In the process of helping clients deal with the unsavory aspects of affect, Ellis ingeniously uses emotional and behavioral techniques designed to reduce the upset and maximize personal effectiveness. These include guided imagery, assertiveness training, behavioral homework, communication skill training and others. All of these focus on the present. Regardless of past realities or self-concepts, the client is allowed to try new ways of looking at the world. Guided imagery helps the client to perceive and believe that success is attainable by picturing or imagining a new scenario where the client is reading with more ability, or being loved or winning in some other way. It is a form of hypnosis usually done in a calm atmosphere employed with progressive relaxation techniques. The client reframes the self-concept of the past with images based on hope and logic.
Logic requires that for a person to change, one must imagine that it is possible and achievable with a little work. This technique is preparatory in nature for goals like conquering fears, but is very important in creating a relaxing state at any time. Guided imagery is a skill that the client can use as a post-therapy tool to be used for life if needed. Assertiveness training allows the client to act on the idea that personal worth and rights can be defended with quiet dignity or insistence. The idea is to train clients how to not be bullied, manipulated, or otherwise abused. More importantly it trains the individual how to express one’s own needs and desires without resorting to bullying, manipulating or other abuse.
Clients often go through guided imagery sessions prior to practicing assertiveness in the real world. Part of the therapy requires that a certain amount of practical behaviors be practiced away from therapy. Stimulus control is a way to keep a client from indulging in unwanted behaviors by having the presence of mind to avoid chances to do them. Ellis writes in How to Make Yourself Happy (1999): “Is stimulus control an inelegant solution to your indulgence problems? Yes, to some extent it is because if you allowed yourself to be in tempting situations and still resisted them, you would be working harder to overcome your low frustration tolerance (LFT) and would be changing your irrational beliefs that create and sustain this LFT. There is no reason you can’t do both: dispute your irrational beliefs and also employ a measure of stimulus control.”(Pp 161-162) The client may be required to do homework like logging the amount of times one was assertive or used profanity or practiced phonics and reading or repeated self affirmations.
Interestingly sometimes the task is paradoxical in nature. Do not think of your fear of sidewalk cracks is turned around to think of your fear of sidewalk cracks. Ellis as coach, parent, and teacher insists on clients taking their work seriously. The homework is checked in therapy and the client is sometimes shamed for not trying or not trying hard enough. REBT has a refreshing if not startling amount of confrontation in the conduct of sessions. This doesn’t suggest an overall brusque manner on his part.
Recently, Ellis has written How to cope with a Fatal Illness and Optimal Aging, and it is clear that his style is flexible in that he still confronts but is very aware of the sensitivity surrounding special issues like those of aging and dying. What is consistent across all his work is that he does not wish anyone to be miserable if it is possible to avoid it. To whit: he is very caring as a therapist as person and has dedicated his life to make people feel better in dealing with life’s travails. The cognitive behavioral techniques of Albert Ellis’ REBT are mirrored by William Glasser in Reality therapy. William Glasser is a medical doctor, a psychiatrist.
He and Dr. G.L. Harrington developed Reality therapy in defiance of traditional psychotherapy, which they saw as severely lacking, being built on the wrong premises. People are not psychotic or demented or schizophrenic, but rather frustrated in fulfilling their basic needs. Glasser can reduce client distress down to a matter of three basic concerns: Reality, Responsibility and Right and wrong (rectitude).
Reality is the unchanging world that the client must live in with all its’ rules, limitations and demands while trying to fulfill basic psychological needs like love and self respect. Responsibility is inherent within the individual to act in accordance with the confines of its’ rules, limitation, and demands. Glasser (1965) writes: “Responsibility-the ability to fulfill one’s needs, and to do so in a way that does not deprive others from the ability to fulfill their needs.”(Page 13) Right and wrong have more to do with the choices of behavior that people make and their inherent consequences. Personal responsibility for acting justly in life is the basis for Reality therapy. Reality therapy like REBT is based in the here and now. Accepting that the past may contribute to a clients’ current condition, Glasser writes in Reality Therapy (1965) that past irresponsibility has little to do with what can be changed r …