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What is the main difference between REBT and CBT?


There are various therapies in health approaches to solve the addiction issues that arise due to patients’ personal and professional lives. The REBT therapy was founded in the 1950s by Albert Ellis and centers around irrational beliefs and thoughts that cause emotional disturbances in a person. CBT therapy is the work of Aaron Beck in the 1960s. It takes a broader approach to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT’s goal is to identify and modify distorted thought patterns and behaviors that lead to psychological distress. The mental health issues due to substance abuse are 13.5% in young adults aged between 18 to 25 years. Let’s understand in detail what CBT, RBET therapy, and the key differences are between REBT vs CBT.

What Is CBT?

Cognitive behavior therapy is an effective talk therapy that solves the problems related to thinking and behavioral patterns that lead to distress. In this therapy, the patient and therapist work together to identify flaws in thinking and behavior. Also, CBT focuses on solving the problem and provides individuals with effective ways to achieve their goals. CBT helps treat patients who are diagnosed with mental health conditions. Mental health conditions such as:

  • Phobias
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder,
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety, panic, and societal disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance use disorders
  • Gambling addiction,
  • Attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder

It helps in physical health conditions such as

  • Diabetes
  • Insomnia, a sleeping disorder
  • Chronic fatigue, such as mental fatigue
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraine

Principles of CBT

The core concept of REBT Therapy involves three levels of cognition in CBT as follows:

1. Core Beliefs
Formed from childhood experiences, our core beliefs shape our self-view, environment, and future perceptions.

2. Dysfunctional Assumptions
People often hold onto negative biases more than positive ones. These irrational thought patterns distort reality.

3. Automatic Negative Thoughts
These habitual, involuntary thoughts trigger negative emotions and are often hard to notice due to their fleeting nature.

Imagine you’re in a meeting, and a colleague dismisses your idea, and you think, “They must think I’m incompetent.” This thought triggers anxiety due to your core belief of inadequacy. Dysfunctional assumptions, like equating disagreement with rejection, distort reality. Automatic negative thoughts, such as “I’m a failure,” lead to distress and avoidance. Recognizing and reframing the thought to, “They just have a different perspective,” can reduce anxiety and promote a balanced response.

Benefits of CBT

The benefits of Cognitive behavior therapy are as follows:


1. Help people be rational 

When a person goes through Anxiety disorders then, irrational thoughts trigger them. Irrational thoughts include interpretations of events, appraisals, and negative thinking. These irrational thoughts are complex to handle. The big problem is that people are not aware of these thoughts. As a result, thoughts become stronger and develop anxiety. Here, CBT helps patients identify irrational thoughts. Also, it allows patients to acknowledge that some thoughts and beliefs have no logical foundation. This way, a person can manage anxiety and live a good life. 

2. Long-term effects 

When tackling irrational thoughts and beliefs, you need a long-term commitment. This is one of the most significant advantages of CBT. Some studies show that CBT provides long-term results. For example, a study from Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics shows CBT provides long-term results for various conditions. Also, JAMA Psychiatry published a study showing that CBT lowers anxiety symptoms within 12 months after the treatment. CBT provides long-term results because it helps people control negative thought processes and behavior.

3. Promotes stress management 

Stress is the issue that creates a lot of mental health issues. Eating disorders, alcohol disorders, sleeping disorders, and many other problems. Stress also increases the incidence of depression. Additionally, there is a bidirectional relationship between stress and depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on stress management and helps in managing depression. The CBT provides mindfulness and rationalization in the thinking process.

4. Increase happiness in life 

The person who is depressed feels there is no happiness and passion in life. A study from the Asian Journal of Psychiatry found that CBT therapy helps enhance life satisfaction, happiness, and family functioning. The irrational thinking of a person makes them depressed and takes happiness out of life. The cbt therapy identifies that thought patterns and helps bring happiness back.

5. Provides a new perspective on the problem 

When a person goes through negative thoughts, they feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. They feel their problem has no solutions. CBT therapy helps a person work through rational thinking and think logically. As a result, they can solve problems in their life and the world around them.

6. It helps in identifying triggers of abused substances. 

The trigger of a person can be an environmental or emotional factor that provides cravings for addictive substances. When a person triggers without effective coping techniques, it worsens addiction and leads to severe complications. Cognitive behavioral therapy identifies the triggers and helps in dealing with them. The triggers deal with three things: recognize, avoid, and cope. It is recognizing the situations and avoiding the situations whenever possible. Also, CBT techniques help in coping with emotions and thinking that trigger a person. 

7. Increase confidence 

When you have Low self-esteem or confidence, you go through an addiction in life. CBT helps people build confidence by recognizing their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that lead to low confidence and self-esteem.

According to CBT, we behave how we interpret situations or not the experience. Instead of having negative thoughts related to a particular situation, CBT teaches patients to make their decisions based on logic and reason, which builds confidence.

8. Make problem manageable 

When a person has anxiety and fear, emotions affect problem-solving ability, according to the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. The patient’s irrational thoughts reduce rational thinking abilities, making it difficult to make decisions and take out solutions for problems. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps bring the patient’s ability to think, make decisions, and manage issues. To get results, CBT first focuses on patients’ current problems and helps them find solutions. 

9. Reduces cravings 

The biggest reason people relapse while recovering from addiction is craving for the abused substances. Because the body and brain get addicted to the substance. Also, these substances give a  feeling of pleasure to patients. When a substance is constantly taken, it leads to higher cravings for drugs or alcohol. CBT helps people reduce these cravings.  Also, it challenges a person to understand they do not need to require drugs and abuse substances. As a result, the power of the cravings in addiction is reduced.

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What Is REBT?

Rational emotive behavior therapy is a psychotherapy founded by Albert Ellis in the 1950s. The therapist focuses on a person’s present to understand how their perceptions of situations cause emotional distress and lead to unhealthy actions and behaviors, which create problems in achieving their life goals. Once therapists identify these, they make patients understand their irrational thoughts and behavior and help them change things. The REBT is helpful for the following people: 

  • Depression
  • Addictive behaviors
  • Procrastination
  • Phobias
  • Anxiety
  • Disorder eating habits
  • Sleep problems
  • Have feelings of anger, shame, guilt, or shame.

Principles of REBT Therapy

The core concept of REBT Therapy is an ABC model. This model explains how external events cause unhappiness and discusses our perception of events. 

The ABC Model is as follows:

  • Activating – the activation leads to a negative reaction or response in the environment. 
  • Belief –  The belief describes a person’s thoughts related to the situation. The thoughts are irrational thoughts about the activating event. 
  •  Consequence – it is the emotional response of the belief. The response such as distressing emotions resulting from irrational beliefs or thoughts.

For example, a student believes he is a topper in college. An activity happened where he failed to be a topper in college. After he started believing that I was a failure, I should feel ashamed, etc. The consequences of these thoughts are that the student feels shame and guilt for not being toppers, and he may be upset and cry and put unnecessary stress on himself to work harder for the next exam.

Benefits of REBT


1. Address the triggers of abuse of substances.

The person’s irrational beliefs lead to self-destructive behavior because of the use of drugs, alcohol, or other addictions. These things need to be addressed, and changes in these things are essential so a person can be free of abusing substances. In REBT therapy the primary goal is acceptance to address the abused substance. Acceptance such as follows: accept yourself, accept others as who they are, and accept life’s ups and downs

2. Acknowledge the emotional drivers for addiction

The person is addicted to substance abuse because they get feelings of guilt, depression, or shame. These beliefs are drivers for consuming substance abuse, as long as the individual has these beliefs, they will consume substance abuse. The goal of REBT therapy is to eliminate the beliefs that trigger self-destructive behaviors in a person.

3. Recognize the addicted behavior on a spectrum. 

REBT recognizes the addictive behavior of a person on the spectrum. After recognizing the addiction, therapy helps in removing feelings of guilt, and embarrassment that individuals feel because of their thoughts and beliefs. 

4. Solve the problem 

REBT helps solve the problem by identifying the individual’s irrational thoughts and questioning distorted thoughts. Additionally, it develops coping mechanisms for triggers of abuse. Also, this REBT therapy helps in shifting the mindset of a person so the consuming of addiction can be overcome and positive changes happen in life.

5. Helps reduce stress

REBT therapy is designed to help individuals manage and reduce stress by understanding irrational beliefs and thought patterns. One person understanding these things the therapy empowers the patients to reframe their perspectives and cope with stress with rational beliefs and thoughts. Additionally, REBT therapy encourages patients to take responsibility for their emotions and actions, enhancing a person’s overall mental well-being and reducing stress. 

6. Help in increasing self-awareness 

In REBT therapy, one of the methods is to do journaling. The journal helps in tracking and analyzing your thoughts and feelings. Also, take guidance from a qualified therapist who supports you in developing self-awareness with REBT therapy. 

7. Helps in behavioral changes 

Due to addiction, a person behaves badly with their loved ones and people around them. It is not good for their relationship and their mental well-being. In REBT therapy, therapists identify a person’s negative behavior and help change their negative behavior so they can live happily with loved ones.

Key Differences Between REBT vs CBT

Understanding the difference between REBT vs CBT takes a lot of work. But let’s know the difference in detail: 

Cost Differences 

One of the key differences between REBT vs CBT is the cost difference. The cost of every therapy is different from each other. The pay is between $50 and $150 for one-on-one sessions of REBT and CBT. Also, the cost depends on the practitioner’s experience and whether the practitioner is a counselor, coach, mentor, psychologist, or another mental health provider. 

Length of treatment 

The REBT and CBT treatment is given briefly with a time limit. The treatment of REBT has sessions between five and 30. While CBT has a broader range and depends on the style of CBT, a person can receive one session or over many years. The session must be extended for someone who is diagnosed with a mental health disorder. 

Available treatment 

CBT is a commonly used therapy, so you can find a trained therapist easily. Finding a therapist specializing in REBT is difficult. The REBT therapists trained in CBT, too. The difference between REBT vs CBT therapy can be seen when patients take both treatments. 

Effectiveness of Each

CBT identifies and changes negative thought patterns and behaviors. Meanwhile, REBT is effective in addressing irrational beliefs and promotes emotional balance. Both the therapies REBT vs CBT share the same effectiveness for mental health and physical health ailments. Both these treatments are highly effective and well-known in therapy techniques.

Certification & Training

The therapist can use specific training credentialing or certification to practice REBT and CBT skills because they are taught in graduate programs and during field placements. Still, therapists can take further education by training or taking additional classes to develop the skills. 

In-Session Experience

The in-session experience looks similar for patients when treated with REBT and CBT techniques. In this session, the therapist will identify the patient’s current life issues, recap the patient’s problem of the week, introduce coping mechanisms, and provide homework for the patient to complete during the sessions. Each therapist has their own technique to work, but this is typically the structure for CBT and REBT methods. 

Out-of-Session Experience

CBT and REBT involve activities outside your sessions with a therapist. For example, writing a diary, replacing negative talk with positive talk. For this session, you need to commit your own time. This homework will refine the skills of patients that you learned in therapy.

These are seven key differences between  REBT vs CBT therapy; you can choose the treatment according to your needs.

How to Choose Between REBT vs CBT?

Some people go through stress when they need to choose between REBT vs CBT. A CBT therapist will use REBT ideals, and a REBT therapist will use CBT ideals. In most cases, the patient cannot see the difference. So, consider an online therapist directory when deciding which therapy to choose. It will help you find the right therapist and decide without any worry. 


Que: What is CBT, and how does it work?

Ans: CBT is a treatment that helps you identify present negative thoughts and behavior patterns. Once you understand thoughts and behavior patterns you start learning how to reframe thoughts and behave. For example, a person is addicted to taking sleeping pills for sleep because of their job stress. These behavior therapists identify and provide treatment. 

Que: Does CBT work in the long run?

Ans: Yes, CBT helps in managing and coping with long-term pain. Also, It helps in changing the way you see pain and manage negative thoughts and emotions connected with pain.

Que: Did REBT help with behavioral problems? 

Ans: Yes. REBT helps in identifying self-defeating behavior that results in emotional disturbance. Also, it helps change your self-defeating emotions and behaviors for your mental well-being.

Que: Is REBT more effective than CBT?

Ans: The studies show that REBT and CBT have high-efficiency psychological and physical health rates. 

Que: Why is REBT better than CBT?

Ans: Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy recognizes the anger and aims to remove the anger. However, CBT does not remove anger from emotions. 

Final Thoughts on REBT vs CBT

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy have similarities in irrational thoughts and behaviors. CBT is talk therapy that solves problems related to irrational thinking and behavioral patterns. REBT is a therapy that focuses on the perceptions of a person related to their current situations, which cause emotional distress. Both these REBT vs CBT therapies are useful in mental health conditions. The key differences between these therapies are cost difference and length of treatment. Treatment lasts as long as the problem isn’t solved, while REBT treatment lasts 5 to 30 sessions. The availability of therapists for CBT is easy, while for REBT therapists, it is difficult.

Additionally, both these therapies are effective, and therapists do not require certificates and training. However, REBT therapy helps in changing irrational beliefs and thoughts, while CBT addresses distorted thinking patterns more broadly. 

Both approaches are effective in treating various psychological issues of a person and reducing the addiction to harmful substances. Additionally, it helps control behavior, reduce stress, change a patient’s behavior, increase confidence, and manage the patients. Moreover, you have the choice between REBT Vs CBT therapy depending on individual preferences and therapy goals.

At Avisa, we provide comprehensive and effective care that addresses the complex and delicate nature of mental health and substance use disorder. We strive to help individuals achieve sustained recovery and improved quality of lifeWe believe everyone should have access to quality care; HealingUS Centers continuously identifies and addresses systemic barriers that prevent marginalized populations from accessing care.

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