Get up! Stomp around! Do your disputing aloud!

Posted by Rex Alexander on Tue 13 Feb 24 in ABC Technique, Basics, Disputing, REBT & Other therapies compared |

This is a follow-up to my post from last month What if you only understand your REBT process intellectually?”

In REBT, obviously, language is important, essential even.  However, in my opinion persuading yourself that your IB’s are truly irrational, unhelpful, often just a bunch of silly fantasy is more important than how cleverly or how perfectly you word your exercises.  Likewise, really believing that your rational replacements are true is more important than clever language.

Too many, I think, approach REBT exercises as if they were solving a rubik’s cube, imagining that if they can just get all the colors lined up correctly, they will automatically experience some sort of transformation. Wrong! That would be the same as imagining that if you just fill out an employment application impacibly, dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s beautifully, that you will automatically get the job. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way.


So, yes, please continue to do your written exercises.  But try also getting up and walking  around, even storming around a bit, do your exercises aloud, put some heat  into it.  In the end, a belief changed is a belief changed.  You will know it and you will feel it. If you don’t feel much or anything, if you say that you understand it intellectually, that probably just means that you don’t really believe what you are telling yourself, you have not truly broken your indoctrination to your irrational belief. Sorry to be the one to tell you. But don’t panic, and don’t despair. Just go back and try again later. Your irrational beliefs aren’t going anywhere, they will be waiting for you when it is time for another session. It’s a process, and it is not necessary to experience a blinding light on the road to Damascus every time. However, it is important for you to avoid any tendency that you may have to approach it like solving the rubik’s cube or the pretty employment application we discussed earlier. 

In the end, it doesn’t really matter how we get there. What counts is what we believe, actually believe deep down in our bones, and how those beliefs make us feel, good or bad, and what type decisions and behavior those feelings generate, rewarding or self-defeating.  A belief is either changed or not changed. Make no mistake, while REBT is based upon reason, not faith, that does not mean cold and calculated.  It means logical, but at the same time “wet” and deeply persuasive.


Try  an REBT version of the empty chair technique, a process popularised in the 1960s by Fritz Perls, developer of Gestalt therapy. Have a little psychodrama with yourself. Imagine what your irrational voice would look like if it were a person or even a creature, give it a personality and a voice, and place it in an empty chair in facing you. 

Sometimes, I imagine myself as the brilliant prosecuting attorney and my irrational voice as the silver-tongued devil trying to persuade the judge that his irrational hogwash is actually the truth. 

The point is to allow you and your irrational voice to challenge one another, to argue it out. Keep at it until your irrational voice is exhausted, and it becomes clear that his arguments are irrational, illogical, unhelpful and often simple false.  Keep at it until you get an emotional hit.  If you don’t, as we said, just let it go and go back to it later.

Give it a try and let us know how it works for your or if you have any comments or questions.


J.L. Moreno (1889-1974), the father of psychodrama, was an early critic of Sigmund Freud, wrote landmark works of Viennese expressionism, founded an experimental theater where he discovered Peter Lorre, influenced Martin Buber, and became one of the most important psychiatrists and social scientists of his time . . .

Empowering Therapeutic Practice: Integrating Psychodrama into other Therapies


The seminal text setting forth the theoretical foundations of Gestalt therapy. Compiled and edited from transcriptions of three workshop/demonstrations that took place at the Esalen Institute in 1968,




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Originally posted 2013-12-07 04:07:02.

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