The main techniques of rational emotive therapy, behavior therapy and cognitive therapy

The main techniques of rational emotive therapy, behavior therapy and cognitive therapy

Author: Murat Artiran, Clinical Psychologist, Ph.D.


They are directive-therapy approaches in contrast to client-centered theory and Freudian theory. They are also considered to be phenomenological oriented therapies. “REBT has much in common with behavior modification. Many behavior therapists, however, are mainly concerned with symptoms removal an ignore the cognitive aspects of conditioning and reconditioning, REBT is therefore close to cognitive a multimodal modifiers such s Aaron Beck, Arnold Lazarus, and Donald Mechenbaum.” (Corsini & Wedding, 2011. pg. 201). Behavior therapy is more concerned with observable and visible facts than cognitive and REBT, because its origin comes from behaviorism. “Although there is some overlap with Ellis’s REBT, the cognitive restructuring method most commonly used by behavior therapists is derived from Becks’ cognitive therapy.” (Corsini & Wedding, 2011. pg. 201). Some of Behavior therapy techniques uses cognitive processes such as ‘Guided imaginary’. Role playing, physiological recording, self-monitoring, behavioral observation are methods of Behavior therapy alone in contrast to REBT and cognitive therapy. “Borrowing some of its concepts from cognitive theorists and a number of techniques for behavior therapy and client-oriented psychotherapy, cognitive therapy consists of a broad theoretical structure of personality and psychopathology, a set of well-defined therapeutic strategies and a wide variety of therapeutic techniques. Similar in may was to Relational Emotive Behavior Therapy, which preceded but developed parallel to cognitive therapy this system psychotherapy has acquired strong empirical support for its theoretical foundations.” (Corsini & Wedding, 2011. pg. 304). “Cognitive therapy uses behavioral techniques to modify automatic thoughts and assumptions.” (Corsini & Wedding, 2011. pg. 298). Homeworks, behavioral rehearsal, role playing, activity scheduling are similar methods in both behavioral and cognitive therapies. On the other side REBT is more interested in irrational thinking (Ellis, 2003) patterns and changing self-defeating thoughts through sophisticated-directive methods. What I mean by sophisticated-directive method is REBT therapist uses language to make the client aware of how his or her thoughts are irrational and out of ‘present moment’. The client may be affected by childhood experiences or other people’s behaviors, however REBT make the client more sophisticate-thinker when he or she interpret these ‘self-defeating beliefs’. Therefore we can say that cognitive therapy and REBT are more close to each other in cognitive thinking patterns, however for behavior therapy, cognitive schemes are not worth to consider in solving the client’s psychological disorders.




Corsini, R. J., Wedding, D., (2011). Current Psychotherapies (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cangage Learning.

Ellis, A. (2003). Similarities and differences between rational emotive behavior therapy and cognitive therapy.Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly, 17, 225 – 240

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