Rational Emotive Therapy (RET)

Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) tends to have its roots as the parent of current Cognitive Behavioral therapy. Rational Emotive Therapy tends to be very didactic in nature, is very directive, and is concerned with both thinking and feeling. RET generally views, thoughts, feelings and actions as having a reciprocal cause-and-effect relationship and that one needs to emphasize all 3 of these modalities in their interactions when impacting behavior.


RET was originally developed by Albert Ellis in 1955, which originally was a combination of humanistic, philosophical and behavior therapy. Rational Emotive Therapy generally views human beings as having the potential for both rational and irrational thinking. As a result, RET works by helping individuals accept who they are and that they will continue to make mistakes, but that as they learn to accept themselves making these mistakes learn to live at peace with themselves.


One of the main concepts in RET is that frequently learn irrational beliefs are learned from childhood. These irrational beliefs impact current false beliefs after a period of self repetition. This pattern facilitates emotional disturbances which lead to personality disorders, neuroses or problematic behavior. Unlike humanistic therapy, people do not need to be accepted or loved even though it might be a best option. The ABC theory of personality is the central concept identified in RET theory and practice. A (an activating event or existence of a fact) B (the person’s beliefs about a) and C (the emotional and behavioral consequences). Generally speaking, a person’s belief about A (activating event) largely causes emotional reactions and therefore by intervening in this belief system we change the consequence.

Therapy Techniques

Common therapeutic techniques and procedures include:

  • disrupting irrational belief systems
  • doing cognitive homework
  • changing one’s language and using humor.

Those involving the emotive components include techniques such as:

  • rational emotive imagery
  • role-playing
  • shame attacking exercises
  • use of force and vigor.

Finally, those involving the behavior techniques include:

  • operant conditioning
  • self-management principles
  • systematic desensitization
  • relaxation training and modeling

How We Can Help

Insight has several therapists trained in RET with offices in Edmonton, Red Deer, Spruce Grove and Calgary. Please call today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.