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Counselling Psychology - Comparing Ellis vs. Beck

What are some of the differences between Albert Ellis's REBT and Beck's version of cognitive therapy?

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1. What are some of the differences between Albert Ellis's REBT and Beck's version of cognitive therapy?

Albert Ellis's Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and Beck's version of cognitive therapy share a common purpose; both Beck and Ellis set out to improve the human condition, and to do so in a rational, empirical manner. Both argue that our belief systems underlie behavior, and agree somewhat on how the Shoulds and Musts have underlying roots, which can and should be changed through cognitive strategies.

They differ HOWEVER in technique and style, and to the attention given to emotions. For example, in an interview of Ellis and Beck, "Ellis joked that people love to steal his ideas, and after the two of them noted some slight differences, it became clear that they basically are very close to each other's beliefs about beliefs, and differ mostly in technique and style, more than in perspective." http://www.fenichel.com/Beck-Ellis.shtml

So, "what about core beliefs?" How do they handle these?

Beck's underlying beliefs are more about self-worth than are Ellis': I must do well. You must treat me well. The world must be okay. Beck said that beliefs need to be evaluated by looking at distortions on the surface, such as "nobody respects me, my family hates me", etc, and then "work your way down" to the underlying core beliefs such as "I am worthless" and then, as Ellis does also, ask "What is the evidence?" for that core belief. Ellis said "I *might* do that, but I might say 'What is the underlying belief?' [Right away], and go right to 'Why MUST you be loved and approved of by everybody?' I try to show, in the whole session, there's always a *reason* for the belief." http://www.fenichel.com/Beck-Ellis.shtml. In other words, Beck and Ellis differ somewhat on the nature of the disturbing beliefs and the underlying beliefs that drive behavior. REBT is more in the here and now.

Thus, different techniques and styles are used in the process of belief identification and change.

Beck: There is a large body of empirical evidence supporting his theory of cognitive behavior, which essentially says that the cause of dysfunctional behavior is dysfunctional thinking, and that thinking processes are shaped by underlying *beliefs*. Situations are interpreted according to basic beliefs and acted on accordingly. "If beliefs do not change," he said, "there is no improvement. If beliefs change, symptoms change. Beliefs function as little operational units". He is very excited about new studies which demonstrate the effectiveness of persuading patients to abandon self-destructive beliefs, which serve to maintain dependent and avoidant behavior in particular, even among what are typically seen as very difficult disorders. http://www.fenichel.com/Beck-Ellis.shtml

Like Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck also turned his back on psychoanalytical techniques. Psychodynamic theory saw depression along motivational-affective considerations, in other words, as misdirected anger, or swallowed anger, or "bottled up anger". In his session work, Beck found that his clients reported their feelings of depression in ways differing from these psychoanalytical conceptulations of depression. Like Ellis, Beck found his clients illustrated evidence of irrational thinking that he called systematic distortions. The basic premise of Beck's Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy concerns these distortions, and follows the philosophy of Epictetus: It is not a thing that makes us unhappy, but how we view things that make us unhappy. Therefore, if we avoid struggling to change things, and instead change our own interpretations of things, we change how we feel and how we act in the future. http://www.candleinthedark.com/beck.html

Beck's Cognitive Theory
o Cognitive restructuring
o Collaborative empiricism
o Attention to emotions
o Development of an effective helping relationship http://dbs.myflorida.com/CIP/phase2_a_files/textmostly/slide50.html

Ellis's REBT differs in that it is more directive and confrontational, and pays less direct attention to emotions than does Beck's Cognitive Theory.

Some Points of Difference between Beck and Ellis:

Beck seems to give more focus to emotions. Beck's therapy seeks to uncover instances where distorted, illogical thoughts and images lead to unwanted or unproductive emotions. He says un-productive emotions, because these emotions can be either good or bad, for either can lead to unproductive behaviors. http://www.candleinthedark.com/beck.html

Ellis agrees with Beck about the nature of the importance of beliefs, but gives less direct attention to emotions, as well as differs in technique and style. In an interview of Ellis and beck, Ellis reiterated his 3 basic tenets:

1. People don't just get disturbed by events, but by the *perception*. A+B.
2. No matter when you developed your belief, you still believe it.
3. There is no way but work and practice the rest of your damn life! http://www.fenichel.com/Beck-Ellis.shtml

ELLIS IN A NUTSHELL: In terms of dysfunctional beliefs, Ellis concluded, "Everything boils down to 3 things":

1. I must do well
2. You must treat me well
3. The world must be easy. http://www.fenichel.com/Beck-Ellis.shtml

Cognitive Distortions differ somewhat - ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses some of the differences between Albert Ellis's REBT and Beck's version of cognitive therapy. Comprehensive discussion.