Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy (CENT) is a new system of counselling, coaching and therapy which
deals with the whole person, as a physical organism, as a social construction, and as an autobiographical story on legs.
CENT is an integration of systems of therapy originally developed by Dr Sigmund Freud, Drs Klein and Fairbairn, Dr
Eric Berne, Dr Albert Ellis and others. It is integrated and further developed by Dr Jim Byrne.
Dr Jim Byrne, January 2010
CENT Paper No.2 (a):
What is Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy (CENT)?
By Dr Jim Byrne
Copyright (c) 2009-2013, Jim Byrne
21st June, 2012; 22nd February 2013; and April 2013)
"CENT sees humans as essentially story tellers, to ourselves and others, and storytellers who live in a world
of narratives and scripts, which include reasonable and unreasonable elements, logical and illogical elements, and defensible
and indefensible elements. Humans often tend to push away (or repress) unpleasant experiences, to fail to process them,
and to then become the (unconscious) victims of those repressed, undigested experiences. CENT also sees adult relationships
as being the acting out of childhood experiences with parents and siblings, because some part of those earlier relationships
have not been properly digested and completed". Extract from CENT Counselling: How to apply Cognitive Emotive Narrative
Therapy in counselling and self-help, By Dr Jim Byrne.***
Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy (CENT) is a system of counselling and psychotherapy
which helps clients to work on their brain-mind-body-and-relationships in order to reduce and control negative or painful
emotions and behaviours, like anger, anxiety, depression, stress, self confidence and couple conflict.
CENT integrates Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Transactional Analysis (TA), Attachment theory, Zen Buddhist philosophy,
moral philosophy, and some other cognitive, narrative and dynamic therapies. And CENT goes beyond those systems, to create
some original cognitive-emotive techniques, models and perspectives.
CENT is not an eclectic system
which has merely bolted elements of different counselling systems together. It is a truly integrative system
which began by revisiting the basic model of the human personality developed by Sigmund Freud and asking: How does this
model link up with the ABC model?What are the necessary implications of assuming that there is substantial
truth in both models? The same process was conducted with Transactional Analysis and cognitive science. The
resulting model was then compared with the implications of the Object Relations School. Moral philosophy and Zen Buddhism
were also interrogated in this process of model building. That work of model building is described in Papers No.1(a) and No.9.
In CENT counselling, we define ‘feeling’ as innate, and ‘emotion’ as a socio-cultural product
of experience: “The terms ‘feeling’
and ‘emotion’, and ‘affect’ are used in many different senses in psychology. A review of more
than twenty theories of emotion reveals a plethora of widely diverging technical definitions. These vary with the technique
of investigation, the general theoretical framework, and the value-judgements of the psychologist. Often, they are so
diverse as to defy comparison let alone synthesis”. Therefore, in CENT, we follow Sarbin in defining feeling as
innate, and emotion as ‘narrative emplotment’ arising out of cumulative, interpretive, social experience.
Because emotion is narrativized, it can be changed in a therapeutic conversation.
Robert F. Hobson, Forms of Feeling: The heart of psychotherapy, Page
Before that system of integration of models was begun, I had studied thirteen different systems of
counselling and therapy, including: Freud and Jung, Rogers and Perles, Behaviour Therapy theory and practice, Cognitive Therapy
and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, Reality Therapy and Transactional Analysis, Existential Therapy and Logotherapy, Multimodal
Therapy and Cognitive-Humanistic Therapy; and also committed myself to the proposition that all systems of counselling and
therapy that are designed to be therapeutic are broadly equivalent in terms of the outcomes achieved for the client, as argued
by Wampold (2001), and Messer and Wampold (2000).
CENT evolved in phases. 1968 to 1980 was a kind of incubation of some core
ideas, triggered by a partial Freudian analysis, combined with art therapy, music therapy, relaxation therapy, group therapy,
and some others. And 1980 to 1998 involved active exploration of various systems of therapy and self development (including
Gestalt and Psychosynthesis, and autogenic training). Then, 1999 to 2007 saw an intensification of thinking and learning
about the core elements of the thirteen systems mentioned above. And finally, over the past six year period - of developing
and applying the emerging CENT model - a basic theory of human personality and psychological disturbance emerged.
1. "This is absolutely excellent!!! I would like to learn (this system) or read a book about this model".
- Taski, via YouTube. 28th December 2011
2. "This dude's amazing (and I) totally love his work". - PsychologyLover93
Dr, Jim... Maybe you'll finally be the one to
create a unified theory of psychology, or at least progress the development of one. That's what the field needs". - Fritz - By Dr Fritz Hershey - Psychologists in Private Practice - LinkedIn, 4th March 2014
This is the best book to begin to read on the foundations of
CENT, and how it is applied in practice:
This is a popular introduction to the theory and
practice of Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy (CENT), which is a highly effective new philosophy of life, and psychological
system of therapy.
This book was designed to answer the most common questions asked by counsellors,
psychologists, psychotherapists, counselling and therapy students, counselling and therapy clients, and self-help enthusiasts,
about the nature of CENT: how to learn it; and how to apply it in practice, to individual counselling, couple's therapy, and
The main aim is to demonstrate CENT counselling in practice; and in the process
you will learn something about how to integrate and apply CBT/REBT, Transactional Analysis (TA), Attachment Theory, Object
Relations and Zen philosophy and Moral philosophy.
In a broader sense than that above, CENT was developed by this author over many years of study and application, in
private practice with more than 720 clients. Here are some of the key features of CENT:
Firstly, we do not make
the mistake of extrapolating from adult functioning in order to understand the psychology of human
nature. Instead, we begin with the baby in the mother's womb (where the mother may be more or less stressed, and more
or less well nourished, depending upon the actual circumstances of her life). We then move on to the baby post-birth,
which is colonized by a carer (normally mother) who may be more or less sensitive to the baby's signals of comfort and discomfort;
more or less responsive to the baby's needs; and more or less caring. And we also take account of how stressed the mother
was, by her life circumstances, even before the baby was conceived. These are the foundations
of human psychological functioning.
There are currently
nineteen core principles of CENT counselling and therapy, and they are listed on this page. However, not long ago there
were only eleven principles, and at that time I made a little video clip introducing those eleven principles. This is
Secondly, we accept the Attachment theory proposition, that the baby
is born with an innate attachment drive, which causes it (after some period of weeks of development) to seek to attach itself
to a main carer. That attachment becomes either secure or insecure, depending upon whether the mother is "good
enough" - meaning sensitive, responsive, and caring enough to soothe the affective states of the baby. Later father
and siblings become important attachment figures for the baby. And the baby forms a set of internal working model of relationship
based upon those earliest relationships.
Third, the first five or six years of life are taken
to be determinants of what kind of life the individual will live. Very largely, the narratives, scripts and frames that
the child learns and forms during this period - which manifests in the form of moods and emotional states, expectations, beliefs
and habitual patterns of behaviour - will determine its trajectory through life, all other things being equal. There
is, of course, some degree of malleability of the human mind, and so what was once shaped badly (by relationship experiences)
can to some extent be reshaped into a better form by subsequent ‘curative experiences', with a love partner, or with
a counsellor or psychotherapist.
My first book on Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy
(CENT) was this: Therapy after Ellis, Berne, Freud and the Buddha:
This book - which was created after the death
of Dr Albert Ellis - begins by enquiring into the case for integrating cognitive therapy and psychodynamic therapy.
It is a scholarly consideration and examination of the models that underlie the system of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy
(REBT), and the ways this author gradually expanded that system by incorporating elements of Transactional Analysis, Gestalt
Therapy, and, later, attachment theory and object relations theory. That scholarly level of the book is underpinned
by the personal and professional experience of the author. This author uses his own difficult life history to investigate
and explore models of the human mind and theories of counselling and psychotherapy which are at the growing edge of counselling
psychology. However, underneath this academic and theoretical level, there is a painful, personal narrative of childhood
suffering. What you will gain from this book is a huge infusion of creative ideas about how to rethink counselling and
therapy practice post the narrative and the emotional revolutions.
Byrne, J. (2010) Therapy after Ellis, Berne, Freud and
the Buddha: the birth of Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy (CENT). HebdenBridge: The Institute for CENT.
Fourth: With regard to the narratives, stories, schemas, scripts
and frames that the individual learns and/or creates: these are, as Bruner said, enactive (or experiences
of doing), iconic (or experiences of seeing) and semantic (or language
based abstractions and interpretations of events and objects). In cognitive psychology, the development of the child
and later adult is mapped through studies of attention, perception, memory, language and thinking; and emotion
only gets a brief mention at the end of standard textbooks - as an afterthought. However, in CENT, we teach that it
is an emotional being that pays attention; it is an emotional being that perceives; it
is an emotional being that forms memories; it is an emotional being which uses language; it is an emotional
being that thinks. And even the most abstract of academic thinking cannot be totally separated
from the emotionality of the person engaging in it. In other words, the brain-mind is an emotional brain-mind.
Human beings are emotional beings, at their very foundations, and they can also think. They are not ‘cognitive beings',
if by cognitive beings we mean ‘computer like'. Computers do not have emotions.
And humans are not computers! (This is why we developed cognitive-emotive therapy, because
cognition and emotion cannot ever be separated!) Indeed, we could say that human beings are not thinking beings at all.
They are actually perfinking beings: beings who perceive-feel-and-think all in one grasp of the mind. And the feeling
component never sleeps! You cannot leave it at the door on your way into school or work.
Fifth: We accept that an individual may be born with a tendency towards introversion or extraversion; and that the
new born baby may also be more emotionally disturbable, or less emotionally disturbable. We accept that the innate nature
of the baby will influence and impact the mother in how she relates to the baby; and the mother's personality and character
and temperament will also influence and impact the baby. This dialectical cross-influence between mother and baby will
eventually settle down into a stable pattern of relating, which will be experienced by the baby (and the mother) as more,
or less, satisfactory.
Sixth: Throughout the whole of the life of the individual, the external environment will continue to exert an impact
on the moods and emotions of the individual. Only the most highly trained and committed Stoic or Zen practitioner could ever
come close to ignoring (or being largely unaffected by) their external environment! Indeed, only a rock,
or lump of wood, or other inanimate object, ever achieves complete indifference to its environment.
Seventh, (1). CENT theory takes into
account that we are bodies as well as minds, and so diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation/meditation, drugs and other physical
inputs and stimuli are seen as important factors in determining the emotional state of the individual client. That is
to say we have needs!
Seventh, (2). We have physical and emotional
Seventh, (3). For example, we need to be loved, liked and accepted by some significant
others. (This need is very strong when we are babies, and it continues to be strong throughout our lives. However,
it is not as strong as our need for oxygen or food. If we fail to get oxygen, we will die in seconds; if we feel to
get food, we will die within days; and if we fail to (give and) get love, we will wither and die more quickly than those individuals
who do learn to give and get love.
The main aim of this book is to spread happiness. Not just any old hedonistic
happiness, excitement, or thrill seeking, which does not last; but rather pro-social, moral, sustainable happiness, in line
with the insights of Positive psychology, Buddhist psychology, Stoic philosophy and various forms of Rational and Narrative
therapy; as well as the two major systems of writing therapy: (the scientific and the artistic).
this book you will find a twelve week program - involving just a few hours each week - which is designed to help you
to manage your life in such a way that you can reduce your unhappiness and increase your happiness, pleasure, gratification
and satisfaction. You will learn simple techniques that can produce almost immediate improvements that will astound
CENT starts from the assumption that we are primarily social animals, and not solitary individuals. We are social to our very
roots, especially from the moment of parturition, when we are handed into the arms of our mothers. Everything that happens
from that point onwards - and also including the original birth trauma - is significant for the development of the so-called
'individual' (who is really an amalgam of significant other 'individuals' with whom we are related from birth onwards, and
who we 'internalize' as 'models'). In particular, our mothers and fathers are braided into the very foundations of our
personality and character.
Ninth: From the Object Relations school, CENT takes the view that the
first three phases of development of childhood can be disrupted, between birth and about the age of six years - or the first
four subphases from birth to age three - resulting in specific forms of relationship dysfunction in later life. The solution
to these problems tend to include a mixture of 'being with' the client in relationship; 'holding' the relationship in a suitable
dialogue; helping them to make conscious and then process their un-experienced or resisted emotions; providing analysis and
models as cognitive-emotive ways forward; and providing a ‘secure base' for the client, so they can learn how to have
a secure relationship, perhaps for the first time.
Tenth: CENT theory represents the new born baby as containing
two fundamental potentials: to develop pro-social and caring attitudes; and to develop anti-social and egotistical attitudes.
Part of the process of socialization is to ensure that the new person mainly develops their 'good side' (or what the Native
American Cherokee people called the 'good wolf') through the moral teachings of their parents, teachers and others; and that
their 'bad wolf' is constrained and contained. (It cannot ever be totally or permanently eliminated. We each contain the capacity
for significant levels of 'evil' to the ends of our days!) But the happy functioning of social animals depends upon the extent
to which we develop our pro-social, moral virtues, and resist our anti-social, immoral or amoral vices. Some clients are clearly
operating mainly from 'good wolf' and some are significantly operating from 'bad wolf'. That latter client group needs coaching
in moral philosophy; and encouragement to operate mainly from 'good wolf', for both the sake of their community and the sake
of their own happiness.
Eleventh: CENT sees humans as primary
non-conscious beings, who operate tacitly, automatically, from layers of cumulative, interpretative experience, stored in
the form of schemas and stories, in long-term memory, and permanently beyond direct conscious inspection. At least 95% of
all of our daily actions are executed non-consciously and automatically. So change is not easy; delusion is our normal state
(i.e. our perceptions of ourselves, others and the world are false to facts); and we project our own 'stories' onto our environments,
and judge them accordingly. To wake up to a more accurate understanding of life - with our adult-functioning in the driving
seat - is not easy, but it is possible.
Twelfth: We mainly operate from one of three so-called
'ego states', or 'ways of being' (as described in Transactional Analysis [TA]). These are:
Parent ego state, when we think, feel and behave just like some parent figure from our past experience;
(A) Adult, which is the logical, reasonably cool and rational, computing part of the brain-mind. And:
(C) Child ego state, which is characterized by our thinking, feeling and behaving just like we once did as a young
Third revised and expanded edition: 2012. The purpose of this book is to teach the reader what stress is, and how to
combat it. It contains eighteen techniques for reducing physical and mental strain, and to enhance environmental control.
It is written in the form of a self-help manual, with spaces for self-reflection exercises. However, it could also be used
by counsellors, counselling students, and interested others, as a means to learn, understand and present the CENT approach to Stress Management
in counselling, coaching and therapy contexts. If you need to control your stress, or you want to help others to do
so, then this book will help you.
Thirteenth: We seem to be story tellers in a world of
stories. (Language is the sea in which we swim, unknowingly; as fish swim in water without ever 'spotting' the water). And
so our neurotic reactions often tend to be outgrowths of old, illogical, unreasonable and unhelpful narratives and stories,
scripts, schemas, beliefs and attitudes. (The exceptions tend to be when our neurotic feelings are a result of unprocessed
experiences from the past).
Fourteenth: It may be that we each have a vulnerability towards angering, panicking
or depressing ourselves when we are stressed by external events or objects; and CENT tries to help the client to work on curing
those vulnerabilities, by changing elements of their beliefs, attitudes, schemas and stories; or by learning to reframe problematical
activating stimuli. Significant stories include: The story of origin, including birth and birth-family; The story of
personal identity; The story of relationship; Stories of transitions; The story of career/wealth/success/poverty/failure;
The story of present problems; The connections between the story of origin, the story of relationships, and the story of present
problems; and so on.
Fifteenth: Our clients may be distressed because of their illogical,
unreasonable, unrealistic or insupportable beliefs and attitudes about themselves, other people and the world, and we try
to get them to reframe those beliefs and attitudes, using the Six Windows model. (See CENT Paper No.3)***.
Sixteenth: Our clients may be distressed because
they have failed to process some earlier emotional experience, which is now stuck in the basement of their mind, causing neurotic
symptoms to emerge in the form of distorted thoughts, feelings, behaviours, relationship conflict, or physical symptoms.
In this kind of situation, the CENT therapist's role is to help the client to dig up that part of their past, to process the
unprocessed experience, which we call ‘completing your experience' of what happened, or did not happen. In order
to do this successfully, we have found that they need to be able, simultaneously, or concurrently, to reframe those previously
unprocessed experiences, so they do not merely restimulate the distressing feelings which caused them to be denied, rejected
and buried in the first instance, all those years ago.
Seventeenth: Our adult relationships (such as marriage and
living together) are strongly coloured, shaped and driven by the original drama between our babyhood-self and our mother and
father. We repeatedly re-enact our family drama, until we work on it and resolve it. We have to 'complete' our relationships
with our parents before we can grow up and move on. And completing those relationships means allowing them to be, exactly
as they were - accepting them, and getting over our judgemental attitudes about our parents, who were just 'blokes and birds
doing their (highly imperfect) jobs'.
CENT e-book No.5: How
to Control Your Anxiety: A rational approach using REBT/CBT, by Dr Jim ByrneIn this ebook, I want to do two things: (1) To present a basic understanding of the Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT/CBT) approach to dealing with anxiety’; and (2) To provide a set of exercises for you to do so that you can learn
how to analyze your problems with anxiety; identify solutions; and implement those solutions so as to eliminate your anxiety.
In that way, you can become your own “counsellor”, in the area of anxiety and fear, because you can learn to fix
your own emotional and behavioural problems.For further information, please go to How to control your anxiety...
Eighteen: When the relationship between the client and his/her parents is too damaged, CENT
offers the client the option to engage in a ‘puberty rite', in which they ‘cut their ties' to their parents -
divorce them, as it were - and in this way clean up their psychological baggage about their parents. (This is a fourteen
day process of visualization of cutting the ties with the parent(s) and allowing both to be free to live their won lives).
They then feel much freer to run their own lives from their Adult ego state, based on present time realities, instead of constantly
wresting with the past.
Nineteenth: When the client is very distressed about their early childhood
experiences, we deploy a process of ‘externalizing' the inner child, so the client can nurture and heal their own childhood
self in the present. This process gradually changes the perceptions-feelings-thoughts of the client, as the inner child
‘grows up' and becomes content with its lot.
3. Therapy models used in CENT
CENT uses a number of different models to structure counselling and therapy sessions. There are at least four
used for relatively cognitive (or cooler, more surface level) work; and several others used for deeper, more emotive (or historical,
and non-conscious) work - (although all counselling and therapy work involves cognitive-emotive processing).
Here are some of the main models we use:
(i) The S-O-R model, which stands for Stimulus-Organism-Response, which was created by the neo-behaviourists.
A stimulus (S) impacts an organism (O) causing it to output a particular response (R). (See below in the next section, on
The next video clip presents some introductory
ideas about the differences between CENT and REBT:
(A) Something - called the Activating Event - happens, which thwarts the client's goal-directed activities (or 'G').
This 'noxious Activating event' is called 'the A'. (Example: You are made redundant, and have problems getting a new job).
(B) The 'B' originally meant 'Belief', and the client is thought to trigger a particular belief, either 'rational'
or 'irrational', upon encountering 'the A'. (Using the example above, the client might tell themselves: "I should
not have been made redundant; it's awful that this has happened; and this proves what a worthless
louse I am!") In other words, the client 'tells themselves', or 'signals themselves', something about 'the A',
or noxious stimulus. And that piece of 'self talk', or 'languaging/imaging', or 'narrative interpretation', is either overly-distressing
(C) The client then feels either reasonably aroused about 'the A' - Activating event, or
stimulus - or overly-upset.
therapists use a variation on the A>B>C model, called the EFR model, as follows:
E = Event
or Experience. What happened, or what are you focussing upon?
F = Framing. What
kind of ‘frame' or ‘lens' are you looking through, in order to interpret this event, or to frame what are you
are fixated upon?
R = Response. What is the emotional and behavioural response
generated by your body-mind?
*Insert new video clip on three important
models: the S>O>R; the A>B>C; and the E>F>R...*
Returning to the
After the A & B & C steps outlined above, then we have the Debating/Disputing
(D) step in REBT:
(D) The aim of REBT therapy is to help the client to Debate and
Dispute (D) their 'irrational beliefs'***, or unhelpful narratives; and to arrive at point 'E': a New Effective
Philosophy***, or a more empowering 'story' or 'narrative'.
(E) The new effective philosophy, or 'E' has to be
reviewed many times to get it into long-term memory, where it guides the tacit responses of the client when they meet that
particular frustrating 'A' - or Activating stimulus - on a future occasion.
In CENT, Disputing is replaced by the frame challenging step (FC):
= Frame challenging. This is the essence of a frame challenge: How many different ways can you think of to frame
the E (or event or fixation that is troubling you)? If only one, then you really don't know how your
mind works. Let's use the Six Window Model*** to show you that there are at least six, and
possibly 66 different ways to look at what happened to you. Then we will consider which of those ways of looking at
your situation is going to serve you best, and which you need to dump. Once you have changed the F
that is distressing you, you will get a new (emotional and behavioural) outcome at point R in the E>F>R
model. (Because it involves a good deal of detail in its own right, the Six Windows Model*** is described
in a separate web page).
(iv) The APET model:
Because of our automatic, tacit, non-conscious functioning, it may often be more realistic to use the APET model,
from the Human Givens school of thought, rather than the A>B>C model; as follows:
A = Activating
event (as before): Something frustrating, challenging or noxious in some way, happens to the client.
= Pattern. Our 'organism as a whole' recognizes this activating event, because it can be assimilated to an existing 'schema'
(or recognizable pattern) in long-term memory.
E = Emotion. Our organism as a whole then 'outputs'
a standard, habitual, emotional response to this stimulus (at 'A' above).
T = Thoughts. Thinking
follows on from consciously registering the fact that the emotional response has already occurred.
Whereas the ABC model tends to focus attention on the B (or belief system of the client), and what the client can
do to change their beliefs/attitudes about the A (or activating stimulus), the APET model often focuses attention on the possibilities
of changing the A, or activating stimulus. This can be done by asking: what would be a solution
to the problem posed by the Activating event (A)? What could you do to achieve that solution?
APET model also can draw attention to the need to change the client's inappropriate patterns of response
to particular stimuli. This can be done by the therapist's telling relevant ‘educational stories', using metaphors,
or using appropriate humorous images. This material can be used by the client (non-consciously) to modify their current
patterns that are stimulated by a particular Activating stimulus (A).
And in CENT, the next element is:
NI = Narrative inquiry: What is going
on 'in the basement' of your (the client's) mind? What is the story that produced this (R) response to this particular 'E'
(or activating Event or Experience)? What is the narrative that is implied by this reaction? How helpful, logical or reasonable
is this implicit narrative? What could the client change in the implicit narrative, or what more empowering narrative could
they develop instead of the problematical one?
In addition to
the four models described above (including the Six Windows model), we also use the following models:
WDEP model from Reality Therapy: The WDEP model has four elements. W = What do you want?
D = What are you doing to get it? E = Let's hear your evaluation of how you are doing.
And: P = Plan (or re-plan): What would a better plan look like?
The Skilled Helper model:
Originally called the Egan Model, after Gerard Egan who created it, this model asks three core questions. Where
are you now? Where are you trying to get to? And: What strategies could you use to get there? Within each
of those three stages, there are also sub-questions, regarding blindspots, leverage, viable agendas, choice and commitment,
brainstorming strategies for action, choosing the best strategies, and: turning strategies into a plan.
The TA Ego State model: This model comes from Transactional analysis, and teaches that the client is always
operating from either Parent (P), Adult (A) or Child (C) ego states, and that the most effective way to proceed is to learn
how to put their Adult ego state in the executive position in their personality. We use this model to identify the place
the client is operating from.
The Gestalt Chair-Work model: This model posits splits in
the personality (like the P, A, C ego states mentioned in the previous model; and also like the sub-personalities of Psychosynthesis),
and provides a basis for healing those splits.
The CENT approach to counselling and psychotherapy is much broader
then the REBT approach. This is how it goes:
Begin with the RCP model:
Build Rapport; Establish a Contract; and then Process: As follows:
(i) The RCP
model - which is adapted from Impact Therapy - is used to open counselling sessions. This is how it works:
R= Rapport. Establish a warm, accepting and productive relationship with the client.
C = Contract. Identify the Contract, or what the client and counsellor will work on, to the benefit of the
client. This could be quite broad, and open, and needs further exploration.
P = Process.
Having identified the contract, the counsellor must now begin the process of exploration:
= The process of CENT counselling can have formal and informal aspects; discussion and questions, or the use of questionnaires.
And the process tends to vary from one client to another, as each client is unique. One approach could be to explain
the S-O-R model, and then: Explore Diet, Exercise, Self-talk, Relaxation/Meditation (as first priorities).
Explore relationships (current and historic), as second priorities. (This exploration sometimes involves the use of
explicit questionnaires about: Diet and vitamin supplementation; Exercise routine; Sleep, relaxation and meditation practice.
To explore self-talk, we use an REBT inventory, and a TA questionnaire. We then may use an Attachment Styles questionnaire,
and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter).
Then select the appropriate model for the next step, from
among the following:
The WDEP model: From Dr William Glasser's ‘Reality
therapy', this model asks: What do you Want? What are you Doing to get what you want? How well is this going (the
Evaluation stage)? And: Let's re-Plan, or produce an explicit Plan linked to what you Want.
ABC model: From Dr Albert Ellis's REBT, this model asks: What was the Activating event? What is (or was) your
Belief (rational or irrational) about that Activating event? And what was the Consequent emotional and behavioural Response
to thinking in that way about your Activating event?
The EFR model: This was
one of the first CENT models. It asks: What was the Event that disturbed you? Do you have any idea how you Framed
that Event (in order for it to show up so badly)? And what was your Response to Framing it however you Framed it?
(In practice we expect the client to have no idea how they Framed their noxious Events. That Framing process goes on
non-consciously. And so we have a strategy to get the client to rethink how they frame the problem, beginning with some
conscious re-framing, which will become non-conscious with practice).
The Six Windows
Model(s): Initially there was only one Six Windows Model, though we recognized that there were likely to be at least
66 different ways of looking at any problem, and possibly even 666. (We are now working on two additional Six Windows
Models, for dealing with Couple problems and Anger problems). But for most practical purposes, we wanted to develop a way
of introducing the client to six different ways to re-frame their problem, which would hopefully break up their (non-conscious)
mono-focal take on the problem. The idea was to get them to re-story their approach to the presenting problem; to create
a new narrative about it. This has worked well in practice. An example will be shown in the next section, below.
The APET model: From the ‘Human Givens' approach to counselling and therapy, this model suggests
that: A, and Activating event occurs; then P, the individual matches that A to a pattern in long-term memory, and outputs
an emotion (E) about it, automatically and non-consciously. Subsequently, the individual may have some thoughts about
the event and the consequent emotion. This corresponds to Joseph Le Doux's ‘quick route' to emotion activation,
while Dr Ellis's ABC model corresponds to the ‘slow (thinking first) route'. You cannot do very much with the
APET model apart from teaching the client about Joseph Le Doux's ‘quick route' to emotion activation; and to emphasize
past patterns in the client's life as routes to current disturbances.
The PAC model
(from Transactional Analysis [TA]): This model is used to teach clients how they move around between ego states; how those
ego states can be managed; and how to grow the Adult ego state, and keep the Adult ego state in the Executive position in
The OK Corral (from TA): This model help the client to understand
that the healthy life-position to operate from is this: I'm Ok and so are you (all). It also helps the client to understand
if they are operating from any not-OK life-positions (about self or others).
model: This is a more detailed exploration of the client's goals and resources for progress.
Gestalt Chair-work model: We use this model to help clients to explore incomplete relationships (e.g. with mother
or father, etc), by allowing the client to have previously unexplored conversations with the absent other. This could
be designed to help the client to heal psychological splits, or to become more fully self-expressed.
attachment styles questionnaire: This questionnaire helps the client to learn whether they have a secure or insecure
attachment style (to their original carers, and/or to their current partner). It also distinguishes between two types of insecure
attachment, and I teach how differences in insecure attachment style plays havoc with some relational patterns. The
process involves the counsellor in providing a ‘secure base' for the client, so they can learn to be securely attached
to the counsellor; which they can then transfer into the wider world.
The Keirsey Temperament
Sorter: This can help some individuals more than others, especially those who have had a lot of negative programming
from parents which has badly affected their self-concept. Knowing their temperament style can help the individual to
understand their potential to grow into a very different person from their parental scripting. It can also help individuals
in relationships to become much more tolerant of individual differences within that relationship.
emotional needs assessment questionnaire (adapted from the Human Givens approach): This allows the client to identify
any unmet needs which may be affecting their equilibrium, and thus causing emotional disturbance.
brief Depression inventory (from Dr David Burns): This is sometimes used to check the intensity of a client's depression;
and sometimes to check on progress over time.
A brief Anxiety inventory (from
Dr David Burns): Like the depression inventory, this is sometimes used to check the intensity of a client's anxiety; and sometimes
to check on progress over time.
Other models: We also use some other models,
to help the client to understand their marriage, or to help them to understand stress, or the handling of panic, etc.
Therapist style: All of those models are taught and applied in a way that promotes
a secure base for the client, and promotes both attachment to, and autonomy from, the counsellor/therapist. That is
to say, we work from an attitude of loving kindness, and sensitivity and caring for the client. We do not normally ask
the classic REBT questions (called, incorrectly, ‘Socratic Questioning'). We teach, and we explore. In our
explorations, we are guided by all of the theories and models outlined above, and more. Our questions are designed to
ask for information, to give information, to cause the client's thinking to start up, to cause the client to focus on a particular
point, and to bring the client's thinking to a conclusion.
We believe human communication
is very difficult, and so we operate very skilfully with the client, in terms of what we ask and what we say.
And we relate to the client as a feeling being who can also (hopefully) think; rather than assuming the
client is a fleshy computer.
CENT is, ultimately, as appropriate, a form of re-parenting therapy.
To reference this paper in a publication, please use the following citation:
 Byrne, J. (2009) Rethinking the psychological models underpinning Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).
Cent Paper No.1(a). Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT. Available online: http://www.abc-counselling.com/id184.html.
this site you will find lots of informational resources (mainly requiring an access fee) about coaching, counselling
and psychotherapy services to help with all kinds of emotional, behavioural and relationship difficulties and problems; and
public performance difficulties. Counselling, coaching and psychotherapy in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, UK;
and all over the world via the telephone system and by email.
Coaching and Counselling services is the home of Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy (CENT) - which is an integration of Rational
Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Transactional Analysis (TA), Narrative therapy, Attachment theory, Zen Buddhist philosophy,
Stoic philosophy, Moral philosophy, and several other systems.