A wonderful story about and interview with the inventor of rational emotive behavioral therapy appeared in last Tuesday's New York Times.
From the article:
"Do you know why your family is trying to control you?" he asked a volunteer who joined him at the front of the room. "Because they're out of their fucking minds."
Another volunteer, Kristin Bell, spoke of her sister who had been killed by a drug dealer eight years before. "Why can't you understand that some people are crazy and violent and do all kinds of terrible things?" Dr. Ellis asked. "Until you accept it, you're going to be angry, angry, angry."
It is Dr. Ellis's conviction that people can always rationally choose to change and that a psychotherapist's job is to nudge them, gently or or otherwise, in the right direction.
That view has defined his career and has helped usher in an emphasis on quick results over profound insights.
On a recent morning, Dr. Ellis laid out his principles for 50 visiting psychotherapists who had arrived for a three-day workshop.
"All humans are out of their fucking minds."
"They're not only disturbed. They get disturbed about their disturbances."
Just because people do not like adversity, they decide that it should not exist, Dr. Ellis complained.
To counter people's natural tendency toward self-criticism, Dr. Ellis says, "I teach U.S.A., Unconditional Self-Acceptance: you always accept you no matter what you do."
Dr. Ellis said that when preparing to take on a risky challenge, people should be encouraged to say they would like to do well, but too bad if they don't.
Rational-emotive-behavioral therapy is focused not on excavating childhood, but on confronting the irrational thoughts that lead to most self-destructive feelings and behavior.
"The trouble with most therapy," Dr. Ellis said, "is that it helps you feel better. But you don't get better. You have to back it up with action, action, action."