When thinking about getting getting help for a troubled teen, it’s important to understand what types of therapies are offered at different treatment centers, so that you can select a program that best meets your needs.
Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy is a counseling technique that is sometimes offered to help troubled teens increase life satisfaction, to reduce the symptoms of disorders such as anxiety or panic, or to avoid negative emotions that increase the odds of addiction relapse.
REBT was developed in the 1950s and was groundbreaking in its day as the counseling technique that pioneered cognitive-behavioral therapy. REBT is still widely practiced and respected today.
REBT as Drug or Alcohol Addiction Treatment
REBT strives to help troubled teens achieve greater happiness in life. It is used in addiction treatment to help troubled teens understand how they control their negative feelings. It teaches troubled teens new to recovery techniques to use in real-world situations that increase happiness and life satisfaction, and in doing so, reduces the odds of relapse.
A REBT counselor would advise that we are responsible for much of our happiness (or unhappiness) and that our beliefs influence our well-being far more than outside events do.
REBT – Changing Your Beliefs to Increase Your Happiness
While asking troubled teen to change their beliefs may sound like some form of indoctrination, a REBT therapist asks patients to explore and change only certain negative and rigidly held beliefs that may contribute to unhappiness.
A. My professor gave me a “D” on my term paper.
B. He hates me because I disagree with him.
C. I give up, I’ll never pass.
A. My professor gave me a “D” on my term paper.
B. He didn’t agree with my arguments.
C. It’s too bad, I’ll have to work extra hard next time to keep my GPA up.
It’s all in the ABC’s! Actions produce Beliefs which produce Consequences. Importantly, it is not, in many cases, the action or adverse event that produces the emotional consequence; it is the belief you have about the action that does.
This is good, because you can’t very well stop anything bad from ever happening to you again, but you can change the way you think or believe, which changes how tough events make you feel.
In the first scenario, the person’s rigid belief (he hates me) led to despondent feelings and self-defeating behaviors.
In the second scenario, a more realistic belief led to a mild negative but healthier reaction and a plan to move on toward continuing happiness and success.
What Are Negative Beliefs?
A REBT therapist will argue that it is our negative beliefs that cause much of our unhappiness, and that if we practice, we can change these beliefs and start living happier more satisfactory lives – which for someone in recovery from substance abuse is a very important thing. It’s hard to stay sober over the long haul when you’re unhappy.
Unhealthy negative beliefs share certain elements, including:
- Lack of acceptance for who you really are
- Demand a high level of perfection from you
- Prioritize what others think about you
- What you think about yourself depends on what others think of you
Some examples of unhealthy beliefs include:
- Those close to me must love and approve of me.
- I must succeed at what I do.
- Other troubled teens must behave correctly, or they must be punished.
- I can’t control my happiness since the things that make me unhappy are not under my control.
- If I don’t achieve my goals, things will be terrible.
In reality, we may prefer it if those close to us love and accept us, but they don’t have to, and the world won’t end if they don’t.
Other troubled teens don’t have to behave the way you think they should, and it’s not up to you to worry about punishing anyone.
You can’t control what happens to you but you can control the way you feel and respond – you can control your happiness!
Tolerance – The Path to Happiness
Accepting yourself, others and the world in general as it is, and not as it should be, is the path to greater happiness.
According to Albert Ellis, the father of REBT counseling, to live a happier life you must:
• Accept yourself unconditionally – I want to succeed at work, but I don’t have to, and if I fail to do well, I can still like myself and have fun. I want to be a better husband, but I am not perfect. I will try to do better while accepting that my few negative traits do not define me as a “bad person.”
• Accept others unconditionally – You accept every other person as a worthy person. You do not have to accept the self-defeating or antisocial actions of others, but no person’s few negative actions define that person completely.
• Accept the world unconditionally – The world is not fair and you can’t control it. You do your best to help yourself and to help others but you acknowledge that you cannot change the world and so you must not get irrationally upset about the state of the world.
As Dr. Ellis would say, you aren’t perfect, others aren’t perfect and the world isn’t perfect – accept it, and then go out and have some fun!
Advantages of REBT Therapy at Triangle Cross Ranch
• REBT therapy doesn’t require the months or years of counseling that some psychodynamic methods do; a typical course of REBT treatment ranges from 5 to 60 sessions in total.
• REBT can induce lasting change and offers clients a real-world technique that can be practiced to increase life satisfaction; once learned, REBT becomes a self-help modality.
• REBT does not strive to help troubled teens change their negative environmental conditions; rather, patients learn to accept imperfections in the self, others and the world, which can lead to greater happiness and personal freedom and frequently to positive environmental changes down the road.