Ellis thinks that the mistake most people make is rating themselves against other people and then labelling them.
This prevents them from accepting their natural fallibility and almost always results in self-contempt or in a defensive pose of superiority.
Ellis has developed his own model of behaviour which is called A, B, C, and model. ‘A’ is the activating event, ‘B’ is the belief system and ‘C’ is the emotional consequence. Here mode ‘A’ is not the cause of ‘C’ rather ‘B’ is the cause of ‘C’.
According to Ellis ‘every human being who gets disturbed really is telling himself a chain of false sentences. That is the way humans seem almost invariably to think in words, phases, and sentences and it is these sentences which really constitute his neurosis. Ellis has identified the following eleven irrational ideas which lead to neurosis:
(i) It is absolutely essential for an individual to be loved or approved by every significant person in his environment.
(ii) It is necessary that each individual be competent, adequate and achieving in areas of interest, if the individual is to be worthwhile.
(iii) Some people are bad, wicked or villainous and these people should be blamed and punished.
(iv) It is terrible and catastrophic when things are not in the way an individual wants them to be.
(v) Unhappiness is a function of events outside the control of the individual.
(vi) If something is dangerous or harmful, an individual should constantly be concerned about it.
(vii) It is easier to run away from difficulties and self- responsibility than it is to brace oneself up to lean on.
(viii) Petty events in an individual’s life determine present behaviour and cannot be changed.
(ix) An individual should be very concerned and upset by other individual’s problems.
(x) There is always a correct and precise answer to every problem and it is catastrophic if it is not found.
Regardless of what happened to the individual in the past, the therapist assumes that the person is solely responsible for the way he feels about himself and this is responsible for his happiness.
The goal of rational emotive therapy is to show the client how his misinterpretation of events is causing him problems and to teach him to see things in a more rational manner and aid him in the process of adjustments.
In the initial interview the responsibilities of the counsellor and the client are defined. The client is responsible for practising any learning acquired during the counselling sessions. Practising means home work.
Rational therapists use a wide variety of techniques to correct the illogical and self-defeating goals and beliefs of the client. These include persuasion, confrontation, challenge, command, even theoretical arguments.
They do not ‘baby’ their clients. He may go so far as to give ‘home work’ assignments encouraging the clients to risk arguing with their boss, patting a dog that frightens them. In short, rational therapists are very directive.