5 Major Differences Between REBT & CBT

The advantages of REBT are profound.


Back in 1955, Albert Ellis presented a game-changing program that would forever modify the therapy scene. When traditional treatments were unchallenged, Ellis came up with REBT or Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.


Since then, useful types of therapies have sprouted out of the 1955 treatment, one of which is the CBT or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. However, these two have numerous vital differences between them making them have their own identities as therapies.


CBT And REBT: Differentiated

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Philosophic. First and foremost, these two therapies are primarily connected to two philosophic bases namely emotional dilemma and distorted cognitions. However, while REBT addresses both of these things in treatment, CBT only focuses on distorted recognitions. Due to this, REBT is often perceived as more effective therapy when the two are compared.

“CBT is a relatively brief, skills-focused treatment that has been shown to be effective for a wide variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, anger, social skills deficits, and relational problems.” –Shelby Harris, PsyD, CBSM

For example, when thinking about asking someone to a second date, anxiety is just average. To CBT, this anxiety is rooted in the process of “mind-reading” where people predict responses of the other party through conclusions and makeshift reactions. However, REBT takes this a little further by somehow putting a mirror in front of you concerning these conclusions. The makeshift conclusions, according to REBT, are not purely based on your knowledge on the other party but also on your own belief. REBT will search for the underlying reasons why you made such predictions.


REBT has three main demands for cognitive distortions at the same time emotional problem:

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  1. “Since I prefer to, I must do good in life and get the approval of others or else I’m nothing,”
  2. “Because I desire it, others must treat me good or else they’re not good at all,”
  3. “Because I wish for it, life absolutely should go excellently or else it’s a disaster.”


According to REBT, these three demands are the ones responsible for creating the states of depression, anxiety, guilt, resentments, anger, procrastination, and last, addictions. With that said, REBT will teach you how to accept yourself by identifying the things that stop you from doing this.


Secondary disturbance. One factor that CBT does not account for is called the secondary disturbance. The secondary disturbance in the state of disturbance caused by the disturbance which means that you are disturbing yourself with the disturbance. This is a factor highlighted by REBT, and an example of this is when you are worried because you are worried.

“In cognitive behavioral therapy, we pay attention to how thoughts and behaviors impact emotions. This means our emotions do not just appear in response to a situation. Rather, emotions are the result of how we think and how we act.” –Sarah Rumpf, MA, LPCC

Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA). Self-esteem is one of the determinants when it comes to therapies, and more often than not, people experiencing behavioral and emotional problems are somehow lacking in this department. With that said, REBT presents solutions for unconditional self-acknowledgment.


CBT addresses problems of self-esteem by doing the client’s positive attributes. This process is called self-rating, and it may or may not work sometimes. With that, REBT provides another solution called the “USA” where instead of focusing on the positive sides and overlooking the negatives, you embrace your wrong sides but train yourself not to generalize it.

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“If your intention is to live a meaningful and healthy life, you will make decisions that support this intention, and feel good about yourself when you succeed in this purpose.” Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D. said Helpful negative emotions. Still, on the topic of embracing negativity, another thing that separates CBT from REBT is how the latter therapy perceives negative emotions. REBT allows you to see negative emotions differently by saying that most of these intense feelings of anguish and sorrow come from intense passion.


All anger inappropriate. Finally, another key difference between CBT and REBT is their perception of anger. To CBT, anger is healthy to release emotions and appropriate if you think you are right. However, REBT counters this by condemning anger. REBT addresses the root of anger and aims to switch that with an alternative as compared to CBT’s way of using anger as a tool for development.


For most of the people, the difference between REBT and CBT is almost unrecognizable due to their similar core notion that emotions and behaviors are generated by beliefs.