Comparison of person centred therapy with rational emotive therapy

The main aim of psychotherapy is to help people. There are a lot of methods and approaches specialists use to help their patients. In my work I will try to analyse, compare and contrast two very popular person centred therapy with rational emotive therapy.
Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) was developed by Albert Ellisand that lately appeared as a branch of "cognitive-behavioral" therapy. This therapy counts on the assumption that all human beings strive to be alive and to achieve happiness. Some irrational concepts, believes and behavioural patterns hold people from this happiness. Irrational concepts appear from wrong perceptions of “musts” and “shoulds”, which do not correspond with real desires and liking of the person. This contrast results separation in the mind of person and makes him unhappy.
In other words, core assumption of this approach is a though that not external situations make us unhappy, but our attitude to them. The role of rational emotive therapy is to show the person the difference between healthy negative emotions, which are natural and unhealthy emotions, which are destructive. In other words the aim of REBT is to replace person’s absolute philosophy, full of “musts” and “shoulds”, which makes him unhappy with more flexible models. Rational emotive therapy teaches person to be more flexible to himself and others, to understand the necessity and naturalness of wishes and desires.
Client-Centered Therapy (CCT) was developed by Carl Rogers between 40s and 50s years of the last century. Person-centered therapy puts the client in the main focus of attention. It states that all the problems appear because of misbalance between ideal and real Selves of the person. Only good balance between these two aspects of the personality can bring good mental health. We can find similarities between Rational Emotional therapy and person-centered therapy as they both see oppositions to be the main source of the problems. In REBT this opposition is created by higher moral standards and will and wishes of the person and in person-centered therapy this opposition is created by real and ideal selves. They propose different methods to resolve the problem. REBT’s aim is to change philosophical dogmatic “shoulds” and “musts” in order to justify person’s wishes and desires. Person-centered therapy tries to establish balance between two different aspects and tries to resolve inner conflict. Person-centered councilor centers on present situation and present place trying to find the reason, which could create the situation as it looks now.
Person-centered therapy is a non-directive approach. It means that councilor doesn’t direct patients actions, doesn’t force him to do or feel something and doesn’t impose him any feelings, thoughts or conclusions. Non-directive approach makes this therapy different from REBT as it uses a directive approach where councilor steers the client’s actions in such a way that it helps him to change some of his concepts.
One of the main aims of person-centered therapy is to make person sure that all his actions, emotions, wishes and desires are good. This way the client gets rid of his feeling of guilt. Therapist will ask person about his problem in order to find feelings and emotions, which were blocked when he met this problem and make his feel these feelings.
The main difference between person-centered therapy and REBT is the focus of treatment. In rational emotional therapy councilor focuses on the thoughts and believes of the client trying to identify those, which create problems. At the same time person-centered therapy centers merely on the feelings of the patient, regarding them as the main source of the problem. The main question of REBT will be “what do you think about that?” and in person-centered therapy the question will be “how do you feel about that?”.
Unconditional acceptance of all client’s thoughts and feelings is one of the main principles of person-centered therapy. In this therapy councilor makes everything possible to help the client to express his feelings and emotions freely and without fear or shame. Rogers defined congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathy as their main qualities, which should be used during this therapy. Such an approach aims to develop the feeling of trust between counselor and patient and to make the patient be honest with himself and his councilor. The process of self-discovery the patient’s experiences during this therapy should pass in a safe and friendly manner in order to bring positive results. Both, rational emotional therapy and person-centered therapy regard the relationship between counselor and client as very important. REBT also recognises the same principles as person-centred therapy, such as empathy, positive regard and counsellor’s authority. But at the same time, in REBT these principles are not as crucial as in person-centered therapy.
Assessing and reflecting the person's feelings is not easy to do. The therapist must be an active listener and able to understand and share the essence of another's feelings.
The importance of councilor’s penetration into the problem is very important factor in both therapies. They both emphasize on the necessity to understand client, his inner state and his problems in order to help to resolve them.
Rogers, the founder of person-centered approach used individual approach for every client in order to achieve best results. “He also pioneered the use of encounter groups, adapting the sensitivity training (T-group) methods developed by Kurt Lewin and other researchers at the National Training Laboratories in the 1950s” (Myers,79).

The main methods used in REBT are personal consultations. The work states with identifying the problem and possible disturbances caused by this problem. After patient recognizes the problem next step will be to find philosophical believes which resulted the appearance of this problem
Rational Emotional therapy is based on didactic approach when changing general way of thinking, some basic philosophical assumptions councilor causes the change in person’s behavior and attitudes. Rational Emotional therapy is based on learning theory. For each patient councilor makes a treating plan with formed goals and objectives of treatment and methods to achieve them. In this kind of therapy, such methods as relaxation, assertion, behavioral rehearsal, coaching, cognitive restructuring, modeling, desensitization and new social skills development can be used. The role of patient should be active in this therapy, as he should perceive the rules proposed by the councilor and express initiative to self-improvement. Rational emotional therapy is suitable for patients with depressions, different kinds of sexual disorders, stammering. It also proved to be very helpful for dealing with disorders in children’s behavior.
Rational Emotional therapy is most suitable for the clients, “who want and are able to conceptualize their problems and who are committed to active participation in the process of identifying and changing rational believes including performing homework assignment in support of the latter “ (Dryden, 85). From the other side, this kind of therapy will not be suitable for passive clients, who do not want to take risks and escape active roles in treatment. Another possible danger appears with the clients, who like moralizing and speculation on philosophical assumptions. In this case treatment also can be less affective and another method is to be chosen.
In general, person-centered therapy can be applied to wide range of patients, practically without any limitations. Rogers himself has successfully used this kind of therapy for people with schizophrenia. This kind of therapy was successfully applied for people who suffered from depressions, anxiety, alcohol addictions, people with cognitive dysfunction and different kinds of personality disorders.
REBT is comparatively new method and its empirical data is very poor yet. A lot of research and observations are to be made before final judgements about the effectiveness of these methods are made.
Those, who criticize person-centered approach in therapy state that the role of councilor is rather passive in this kind of treatment. There is a danger that councilor becomes passive and does nothing but listen to the patient. Another possible problem lies in the fact that the results of this therapy can be not as quick as in some other therapies, which assume more active role of the councilor.
The choice of the therapy is a person choice of the councilor and in each situation it can vary in order to meet the needs of every client. Practice shows that combinations of several methods can give very good results. In this case different methods supplement each other and patients have the opportunity to choose the most appropriate one for him.

1. Kensit, Denise A. "Rogerian Theory: A Critique of the Effectiveness of Pure Client-Centred Therapy." Counselling Psychology Quarterly 13, no. 4 (2000): 345-351.
2. Myers, Sharon. "Empathic Listening: Reports on the Experience of Being Heard." Journal of Humanistic Psychology 40, no. 2 (2000): 148-173.
3. Rogers, Carl. Client-Centered Therapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1951.
4. Windy Dryden, Larry K. Hill, editors, Innovations in Rational-Emotive Therapy (1993)
5. Daniel Druckman and Robert A. Bjork, editors, In the Mind's Eye: Enhancing Human Performance (1992)

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