chapter  2
LANGUAGE AND MEANING IN RATIONAL-EMOTIVE THERAPY
Pages 13

INTRODUCTION In this chapter the issue of language and meaning in rational-emotive therapy will be discussed - a topic which has received scant attention in the RET literature. For example, two of the major texts in rational-emotive therapy, (Walen, DiGiuseppe & Wessler, 1980? Wessler & Wessler, 1980) devote a little over a page to this issue. Wessler & Wessler (1980) make the important point which encapsulates the argument that will be made in this chapter: 'Since all words are abstractions and subject to varying denotations and connotations, it is important that we use a shared vocabulary with a client - specifically, that we define our terms and check out the meanings of the client's terms - and try to keep the dialogue as concrete as possible' (p. 179). In addition to understanding the client's language, it is equally important that the therapist ensures that the client understands the therapist's use of language. Since therapist language can be best construed as 'A' in the ABC framework, it is likely then to be interpreted idiosyncratically by the client who will then proceed to make evaluations about such interpretat­ ions at 'B'. Thus, the possibilities for misunder­ standing are legion. RET is often also miscon­ strued by fellow professionals given the different meanings that can be attributed to the term 'rational*. Young (1975) has argued that people often construe rational to mean cold, logical and unemotional whereas in RET rational is defined as 'that which aids and abets our clients' basic goals and purposes'. However, this use of the word 'rational' is not commonly held and if unexplained will often lead to wrong impressions being created

in the minds of both non RET therapists and clients.