Cognitive Behavioral Theory Versus Rational Emotive Behavioral Theory

Cognitive Behavioral Theory Versus Rational Emotive Behavioral Theory

Address the following:

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Briefly describe how cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) are similar.

Explain at least three differences between CBT and REBT. Include how these differences might impact your practice as a mental health counselor. Cognitive Behavioral Theory Versus Rational Emotive Behavioral Theory

Explain which version of cognitive behavioral therapy you might use with clients and why. Support your approach with evidence-based literature.

Note: The School of Nursing requires that all papers submitted include a title page, introduction, summary, and references.

Similarities and Differences between CBT and REBT



            In psychotherapy, the term Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has almost become a generic term for Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) and Cognitive Therapy (CT). According to Ellis (2003), “it is almost impossible to describe accurately … [as] it has now become much more eclectic and integrative ….” (p. 225). Corey (2017) confirms this inclusive nature of CBT by stating that “One of the most common CBT group approaches is based on REBT principles and techniques” (p. 279). For this reason, some authorities seem to use the terms CBT and CT synonymously and interchangeably (Corey, 2017). This paper looks at the similarities and differences between REBT and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT/CT). The former was independently developed by Albert Ellis in the same period that the latter was being developed by Aaron T. Beck (Corey, 2017).

Similarities between CBT and REBT

CBT and REBT as psychotherapy options share quite a number of similarities. Both are types of behavior therapy that encourage patients to work on their thoughts between therapy sessions, at home. This makes both REBT and CBT use “specific homework assignments” that are given to the patient/ client to go work on and accomplish (Ellis, 2003, p. 229). Both therapies also hold that the way people express their behavior outwardly is the consequence of their own perceptions and beliefs. Furthermore, they also both require the patient or client to identify their problem themselves (Corey, 2017). CBT and REBT both focus on educating the patient and enabling them to work on prevention of presently held negative thoughts influencing future behavior and emotions (Ellis, 2003; Corey, 2017). CBT and REBT also both stress the significance of “irrational or dysfunctional beliefs in the creation of emotional disturbance ….” (Ellis, 1999, p. 5; Iftene et al., 2015). In all, both REBT and CBT advocate for a healthy and “friendly, caring therapist-client relationship” (Ellis, 2003, p. 228). Cognitive Behavioral Theory Versus Rational Emotive Behavioral Theory

Three Differences Between CBT and REBT

According to Ellis (2003), CT takes “a collaborative stance” between therapists and clients. REBT, on the other hand, emphasizes more on the therapist teaching the client and the latter absorbing and implementing what they are taught. The major underpinning hypothesis of REBT is that “people contribute to their own psychological problems … [and] specific symptoms” because of what they hold to be true in their own minds (Corey, 2017, p. 271). CBT/ CT on the other hand, is “based on empirical research” and uses evidence-based and tested methods (Corey, 2017, p. 281). The third difference between the two is that on the one hand, REBT aims to make the patient or client identify long-held beliefs and thereafter systematically disabuse them of the same through education. On the other hand, CBT does not consider the client’s negative beliefs as the only cause of symptoms; but also “genetic, neurological, or environmental changes” (Corey, 2017, p. 282). These differences, therefore, may impact my practice as a mental health counsellor in that I’ll have to make an informed choice of behavior therapy to use between the two on a case-by-case basis.

Preference for Cognitive Therapy (CT)

Although both psychotherapy modalities are effective and widely accepted, my preference would be CBT. This is because it is based on tested practical evidence that is scientific and can be quantified and replicated (Corey, 2017). Evidence-based therapies (EBT) are currently the gold standard across all levels of medical practice.Cognitive Behavioral Theory Versus Rational Emotive Behavioral Theory


            REBT and CBT/ CT are alternative forms of behavior therapy that were developed independently at approximately the same time. The former uses philosophical tenets while that latter takes an empirical evidence-based approach. Both are however similar in many ways and significantly impact the practice of the mental health counselor.  


Corey, G. (2017). Theory and practice of counselling and psychotherapy, 10th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Ellis, A. (1999). Rational emotive behavior therapy and cognitive behavior therapy for elderly people. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 17(1), 5-18. DOI: 10.1023/a:1023017013225

Ellis, A. (2003). Similarities and differences between rational emotive behavior therapy and cognitive therapy. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly, 17(3), 225-240. DOI: 10.1891/jcop.

Iftene, F., Predescu, E., Stefan, S., & David, D. (2015). Rational-emotive and cognitive-behavior therapy (REBT/CBT) versus pharmacotherapy versus REBT/CBT plus pharmacotherapy in the treatment of major depressive disorder in youth: A randomized clinical trial. Psychiatry Research, 225, 687–694. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.11.021

Cognitive Behavioral Theory Versus Rational Emotive Behavioral Theory


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