5 Major Differences Between REBT And CBT


Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is a type of behavioral therapy that was introduced in 1955 by Dr. Albert Ellis. It is characterized as revolutionary and a bit different compared to the traditional therapy and counseling types. But despite its modern techniques, it was found to have some similarities with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. 

Both therapy types’ focuses more on human behavior and emotions which is correlated to attitudes, ideas, beliefs, and thinking. These factors are believed to have that strong force towards attitude change. But the similarities between the two therapy types end at that. There are five major differences between Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. These differences further distinguish the two kinds of therapy from each other.

“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

Source: psychcentral.com



Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy focuses more on the philosophic bases concerning disturbance with emotions, and this makes such treatment powerful. REBT points out demands in igniting emotional distress and cognitive distortions, and the said demands lead to addictions, anxiety, guilt, depression, anger, resentment and procrastination.

The only solution to such state is acceptance. The patient must first accept his condition, and secondly, the people around him also must learn to receive the situation as well. As for CBT, this is not the issue.


Secondary Disturbance

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is also considering the idea of secondary disturbance involvement. The person, being conscious all the time with the things that disturb him, can be viewed as a significant factor in having anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy ponders this while CBT is not following that principle. “Cognitive behavioral therapy, often shortened to CBT, focuses on recognizing negative thought patterns and changing thoughts and behaviors and feelings through concrete skills.” explains Hannah Goodman, LMHC



As CBT focuses more on uplifting a person’s self-esteem, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, on the other hand, encourages self-acceptance. Instead of identifying the patient’s weakness and rating his behavior, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy helps a person to open his eyes and see the positive side in his condition. After seeing it, he has to accept it wholeheartedly. This method is known as the Unconditional Self-Acceptance or USA.

“A good way to keep from destroying your self-esteem is by keeping negative self-talk in check. Catch yourself before you go spiraling down the hole of negative thought.” You’ll notice a big difference.” –Cindy T. Graham, PhD

The USA stirs a person away from self-rating traps. Its philosophy is to accept the human side of each person no matter what their condition. CBT is not like this at all. Although, with CBT, self-esteem is empowered.



Source: drugrehab.org


Helpful Negative Emotions

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy has a different definition when it comes to negative emotions and self-destruction. REBT urges people to think differently or to see the other side of the situation. One must try to find the right side of a particular circumstance. It will help them calm themselves down and look through things differently. CBT doesn’t do this practice.


Source:  positivepsychologyprogram.com


Inappropriate Anger

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy considers anger as a condemning, commanding, dictatorial and philosophic factor. With that established, this therapy assists a person in exercising his problem-solving skills and his assertiveness at the same time despite his anger issues. Instead of dealing with the anger itself, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy uses anger for the patient’s sake to transform and change. CBT doesn’t function this way.

These are the significant differences between REBT and CBT. Though both are created with the same motive, still their ways differ on how to face the person’s problem. These two have unique impacts on people, and it is now the person’s choice on which to therapy program to apply. Anyway, either of the two can help in overcoming a person’s behavioral problem.