A Glimpse into the Philosophical Psychology and the Pragmatics of Rebt: A Suggestion by Wessler

Article excerpt

Abstract

From a comment by Wessler made in 2007 that philosophy could be at the center of REBT, the article takes a trip down memory lane concerning Ellis and his philosophical machinations over the years. Thereafter, there is explication of Heidegger's work as well as existentialism as crucible for REBT. Finally, the idea of using REBT as common language with a client is developed so that new possibilities are constructed within a therapeutic relationship. This writer's bias toward pragmatism was explicated.

Keywords: rational emotive behavior therapy, philosophy

At a recent international conference on REBT (rational-emotive behavior therapy) in November 2007 in New York, a former Director of Training at the Albert Ellis Institute, Richard Wessler, made a comment about philosophy and REBT. His comment came after the audience of about fifty people listened to discussions of scientific research, future directions of REBT research, and applications of REBT now and in the future. Wessler suggested that perhaps room could be made for the philosophy of REBT to be centerpiece of REBT-at least as a subtext-now and in the future for its own sake and not as a matter of research or applied research (but surely as a matter of consistency, coherence, and composition).

A few of the people gathered at AEI for the above referenced meeting insisted that there was an essential REBT, whereas others countered that essentialism invariably led to dogmatism. Some discussants judged that outcome studies led to cook-book interventions that satisfied third-party insurance payers that wanted results, whereas others saw research as a key to maintaining REBT as a solid player within the field of cognitive-behavior therapy and as a way to keep it abreast of research in similar domains or to push it in front of the progress curve. Raymond DiGiuseppe reminded the discussants of the great debate in psychotherapy written of so eloquently by Wampold (2007).

A distinguishing feature between REBT and CBT according to Ellis (1994) was that the former represented a top-down, philosophically guided system replete with Socratic methods as the basis for information that had led to irrational or rational guiding philosophies of life by an individual, whereas CBT interventionists typically began from an empirical or data collection base and then worked to achieve symptom relief or resolution or schema driven behavior redirection-all consistent with the theory of CBT lest random data be gathered for no apparent reason. REBT therapists usually but not always invite clients into discussion, whereas consistent with its empiricism CBT interventionists might ask what problem a person wished to resolve. REBT therapists usually look for a combination of guiding philosophies that involve evaluations of situations as their negative or positive origins (Socratic nuance) and acceptance of the self as representing profound redirection. The CBT literature generally seems to report symptom relief through cognitive or schema redirection or reconstruction (David, 2003; Dryden, 2003).

Ways of Organizing One's Life in the World

Science and philosophy are but two of the many ways of organizing one's life in the world according to Ruben Ardila (2007). One can look through those lenses but also through the lenses of poetry, literature, history, religious adherence, meditation, communism, mysticism, relationships or through the lenses of many other paradigms.

Distinctions between science and philosophy show that science from Bacon onward involved starting with information that came through the senses. Conscious human beings could then codify that information to learn about standards for hearing, sight, and thresholds for pain, pleasure, and touch. Thereafter, studies concerning attention, memory (trace, working and longer term), symbol manipulation and abstraction became part of the study mix. Contrasting one group exposed to an independent variable compared to a matched group not so exposed allowed for inferences of change and the reasons for the change having taken place. …

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