The rational emotive behavioural approach
Men are disturbed not by things but by the views which they take of them. Epictetus AD c. 55-c. 135
Albert Ellis, the founder of rational emotive behaviour therapy, often quotes this line from the Stoic philosopher Epictetus to emphasise the basic premise of this approach to counselling and psychotherapy. Rational emotive behaviour therapy maintains that our emotional problems and counterproductive behaviour are largely the result of ‘crooked’ unhelpful thinking. It is not events that cause our problems, but the way we think about them. Ellis calls our unhelpful thoughts ‘irrational beliefs’ and says that they are at the core of much emotional disturbance. Rational beliefs on the other hand are flexible, helpful ways of thinking and enable us to be psychologically healthy.