Applying Anxiety to Rational Emotive Behavioral Theory
St. Cloud State University
Theories that can be applied to help clients cope with anxiety consist of Existential Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy and Gestalt Therapy. It should be noted that the focus of this essay will be on REBT. Anxiety is a feeling of dread that results from repressed feelings, memories, and experiences that emerge to the surface of awareness (Corey, 2009). However, anxiety is not only a feeling; anxiety affects your mind and body. If one’s anxiety level is too high, they may show physical symptoms. It may begin as chest pain, but result in the numbing of an entire limb or even ...view middle of the document...
Like all therapies, REBT has a few main goals for clients. The primary goal of this therapy is for the client to become aware of their irrational beliefs so they can work on transforming them into rational beliefs (Powell, 2011). These irrational beliefs often prevent people from living a fulfilling life. These beliefs may result in irrational emotions and behaviors such as jealousy, shame, envy and guilt. These beliefs can be described as oughts’ and musts. An example would be someone saying they must receive all A’s for a semester or they ought to never fail at anything they try. These feelings and beliefs can easily cause one to experience anxiety. These beliefs are self-defeating and can potentially prevent clients from ever being happy with whom they are. A therapist’s goal in these scenarios is to help clients think more rationally so they can become more satisfied with their life. If a client is more rational with their thoughts, then the level of anxiety will lessen.
With this type of therapy the therapist is often viewed as a teacher. Therapists first help clients become aware of irrational thoughts. Then they help clients learn to think differently, so these irrational thoughts no longer enter the client’s mind. In order to reconstruct a client’s way of thinking the client needs to participate in many exercises during therapy along with doing “homework” assignments. Clients need to play an active role in therapy in order to benefit from it. A great way to look at REBT from a client’s perspective is a statement said by Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see”.
For there to be positive change from this form of therapy there needs to be a strong relationship between the client and therapist. The most important thing for the therapist to do is to fully accept the client for who they are. However, if the counselor shows too much empathy towards the client, the client may end up depending on the counselor for approval. Along with accepting the client, the therapist also needs to view the client as an equal. If the client can tell the therapist views them as an equal, the client in turn will also view themselves as being more equal. Therefore the client will begin to accept themselves even with their imperfections. Once a client can accept himself or herself for who they are, their irrational beliefs will decrease along with the amount of anxiety they experience.
After the framework of REBT therapy is understood, it is time to apply the therapy to a client experiencing anxiety. For this type of therapy there is an ABCDEF model to help change the irrational thoughts that a client is experiencing. First the client and the therapist need to figure out what event causes any irrational beliefs. For example, taking a test for a class may trigger some irrational beliefs. The next step is to understand the emotional and...