Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, which is a component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, focuses on rationalizing irrational/negative thought patterns and replaces them with more rational/positive thought patterns. Our thoughts lead to how we feel and then our feelings lead to our actions. This thinking starts off by analyzing an event and then analyzing it in a way that could be either negative or positive. By using this approach, you can work with your clients to figure out what the irrational belief was to lead a client to abuse alcohol or substances. There must have been a self-defeating negative thought or trigger that led the person to abuse the substance. These irrational beliefs can lead to negative emotions and therefore, taking part in negative behaviors such as drug or alcohol abuse. By using REBT therapy, you can help to challenge and disrupt the negative thoughts and beliefs and change them into positive thoughts and behaviors which in turn would lead the person to not need to turn to substances due to the person interpreting the event in a less intense and less negative way— lessening the behavior to abuse substances or alcohol.
A popular technique that is used in REBT is the A-B-C technique. This stands for activating events, beliefs about events, consequence, disputing irrational beliefs, and new emotional consequences. Let’s apply this to someone with substance abuse problems.
A: Activating Event: A spouse decides to end their marriage to their partners
B: Irrational Beliefs: Thinking you are not worthy, there is something wrong with you, the world is not fair to you, you will never find someone
C: Consequence: Feelings of unhappiness, depression, and anxiety leading to drinking and substance abuse
D: Disputing Irrational Beliefs: Asking yourself why the relationship ending means you cannot find someone else and why it makes you unworthy of love.
E: New Emotional Consequence: My wife decides she doesn’t want to be with me and that is okay because I deserve to be with someone who wants to be with me and I will be able to find someone.