This is an extract from Dr Jim Byrne's book
on The Birth of CENT:
CHAPTER 3: BEYOND REBT - THE CASE FOR MOVING
Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2010
This chapter begins with a process of defining ‘irrational beliefs'. The word ‘irrational' as used
in everyday language means ‘not logical or reasonable'. In REBT this may have been the original meaning of ‘irrational
beliefs'. However, over time, ‘irrational' came to mean ‘not self helping', in the sense of not promoting
goal-achievement by the client. It also came to mean specifically the use of words like ‘should' and ‘must'; and describing
relatively bad situations as being ‘awful'. (Ellis and Dryden, 1999, page 14-15).
then proceed to re-examine the source of human disturbance, and look at how the attitudes and expectations of the individual,
interacting with the situation in which they find themselves, jointly create the individuals emotions. It is not a matter
of attitudes per se, or situations per se; but rather the dialectical interaction of the two which gives rise to reasonable
or unreasonable emotional reactions.
Counselling and therapy clients may be assumed to engage
in the construction of arguments, the conclusions of which are either logical and defensible, or illogical, unreasonable and
indefensible. It is argued that rational and cognitive counsellors should develop skill in the use of critical thinking
to help their clients to unpick the logic of their arguments, and to construct less distressing arguments in the future.
Instead of developing a range of skills for questioning the logic of a client's arguments, REBT set about constructing
a process of ‘disputing irrational beliefs', which essentially teaches new REBT therapists to challenge every ‘should'
or ‘must' they find in their client's language; to look for such ‘shoulds' and ‘musts'; to look for and
dispute any uses of ‘awful', ‘terrible' and ‘horrible'; etc. This chapter challenges the efficacy
of this ‘disputing approach', and also argues that it has evolved into a form of Logical Positivism, which denies the
validity of moral ‘shoulds' and ‘musts'.
It is argued that, because the ‘demanding
words', including ‘should', ‘must' and ‘ought' are essential to our ability to construct a moral argument
and conduct a moral discourse, we cannot justify developing a system of therapy which tries to eliminate all use of should
and must. We must learn to distinguish between different uses of ‘demanding words', including logical imperatives
and moral imperatives.
It could be argued that, when Albert Ellis began to develop his system
of Rational Therapy, in 1953 onwards, it was progressive to try to help individuals, oppressed by excessive, authoritarian,
guilt-inducing religious beliefs, to loosen their shackles, and to dump a lot of their ‘crazy ideas' about guilt and
shame. However, it can equally be argued that the progressive cause today is to restore morality to a high status in
our degenerating societies in the west; and to reinstitute ‘appropriate guilt' and ‘appropriate shame' to their
rightful places at the core of our moral-emotion education. This lesson can be learned from reading about social decay
in a ‘quality broadsheet' newspaper today; and it was brought home to the supporters of Albert Ellis by the way they
perceived him to be treated in the final few years of his life by some of his former colleagues.
moral philosophy with counselling and therapy is central to the agenda of the Institute for CENT Studies.
 Ellis, A. and Dryden, W. (1999) The Practice of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy. Second
edition. London: Free Association Books.