This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 13 table of contents.

Criticisms of Ellis and REBT

Ellis claimed that his therapy could handle most problems as well or better than competing therapies. That rubs some people the wrong way. They accuse him of having the attitude, "Anything you can do, I can do better."

What are some things about Ellis's therapy that some people dislike?

Some people are turned off by Ellis's confrontational approach. They do not like having their beliefs confronted and attacked, so they leave therapy without being helped. You must be mentally tough to take a frontal attack on your beliefs, even if it is what you need. Although Ellis said he practiced the Rogerian principle of unconditional positive regard for the client, he did not hesitate to administer tough love by disputing the client's ideas and suggesting new ones to put in their place. Part of this was just Ellis's own personality; other REBT practitioners would not necessarily be so confrontational.

Why might long-term therapy be needed, according to Ellis?

REBT, like all psychotherapies, does not always work, and it is not always what people want. Ellis had an explanation for why the therapy sometimes seems to fail. He commented that people who claimed to be following REBT principles often turned out to be doing no such thing. Long-term psychotherapy might be necessary, he said, to make sure a person was actually putting revised beliefs into action, not just talking about it. In other cases, people simply did not want the direct sort of advice that Ellis dispensed. A person who preferred to "vent" or share worries with a therapist, without getting corrected, would be happier with a nondirective therapist.

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