Counseling in Schools. a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (Rebt) Based Intervention - a Pilot Study -

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

During the last five decades, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) (Ellis, 1955) clearly revealed its efficiency and flexibility beyond the clinical settings. An adapted form of the clinical model in educational environment is the Rational Emotive Behavior Education (REBE). By its structure and strategies, REBE strongly emphasizes the prophylactic value of the entire paradigm. In the present pilot study we addressed the matter of such an educational program and tested its efficiency in the Romanian high schools. We intended to decrease students' irrationality and offer them the chance to develop a more adaptive life philosophy, by changing the way they see and perceive things. To reach this goal, we used an experimental design with repeated measures. The results clearly confirm our hypotheses and sustain the possibility of achieving significant changes in the belief systems, emotions and behaviors, by using an REBE intervention.

KEYWORDS: rational emotive behavior education; school counseling; rational and irrational thinking style.

REBT stands for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, a form of psychological counseling first developed by Albert Ellis in the late 1950's. Its foundations may be found in the writings of Stoics as Epicure and Epictetus. Around 500 B.C., Epictetus stated that It's not what happens to us, but how we react to it that matters (Epictet, 2002). In other words, it is not an event that troubles us, but our perception and the interpretation we give to that particular event. The basic idea of this form of therapy is that we are the only ones responsible for the way we (decide to) feel, thus suggesting that we have, to a considerable degree, control over our thoughts (Ellis, 1979b). In a very simple, yet effective model called the ABC, Ellis (1979a, 1985) outlined an application for his theory, so that anyone could use it to identify and control his/her thoughts and then change them, thus achieving more adaptive and functional emotions, and behaviors. On the one hand, ABC stands for the first letters of the alphabet, thus proving its simplicity and clarity, and on the other hand, it is an abbreviation. "A" stands for the Activating Event (it refers to any real, external event, imaginative or internal event, or even an inference about an event) (Dryden, 2002) that might occur and trigger an idea or a series of thoughts or beliefs. "B" stands for Beliefs, and it represents the evaluations and interpretations of the particular event. These beliefs may be Rational (Self Helping) or Irrational (Self Defeating). They are considered to be rational when (i) they help us in achieving our goals, (ii) they can be verified in reality, and (iii) they are logical. By the same token, thoughts are considered to be irrational when they don't meet these criteria. Last but not least, "C" stands for the consequences that might appear due to the thoughts and beliefs that one has. These consequences are observable through the individual's emotions or behaviors, and can be adaptive or maladaptive. An irrational thinking pattern, once stabilized may lead to different forms of severe intra- and inter-personal functioning (depression, anxiety, uncontrollable anger, conflict, etc.) (Martin & Dahlen, 2004).

The basic idea of the REBT theory is that by changing one's irrational beliefs into more flexible and rational ones, one may achieve a significant change in the emotional and behavioral consequences, by changing them into more adaptive ones (Davies, 2006). In a simple scheme, the ABC model can be presented as follows (see Figure 1). For a more detailed description of the ABC model and the REBT, see Dryden and Giuseppe (1990).

Rational Emotive Behavior Education represents a psycho-educational preventive intervention program addressed to students. The program lies its' foundations in the ideas of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.

An REBE system is characterized by a remarkable flexibility, which allows it to be relatively easy to adapt and use in counseling diverse populations. …