RATIONAL EMOTIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY IN THE TREATMENT OF STRESS

ABSTRACT Rational emotive behavior therapists view stress-related disorders as originating in irrational beliefs (iB’s), philosophies and attitudes, as opposed to the stressor. People who suffer from stress differ from people who suffer from emotional or neurotic problems mainly in that the stressed people have iB’s about specific, short-term or more readily identifiable events, as opposed to the more mundane and diffuse difficulties suffered by the neurotic individual. Both the conscious and unconscious antecedents to stress difficulties and how they relate to distorted thinking and psychophysiological disorders are discussed from an information-processing perspective. Rational emotive behaviour treatments for stress-related disorders are detailed and explained.

Introduction

When mental health professionals examine stress as an object of treatment, we are really talking about the distress, both physical and emotional, that ensues from a series of interpersonal and environmental irritants, or a particularly compelling one. The term `stress’ is a broad or generic term applying to many different states and situations that act on the psyche and body to reduce homeostasis (Elliot & Einsdorfer, 1982). The lack of a consistent definition of stress makes any discussion of treatment difficult. After all, stress is not always bad. Yerkes & Dodson demonstrated this over a generation ago. Stress-related arousal frequently serves to enhance performance. In clinical work we typically use the term to apply to those pressures and strains of living that reduce the quality of life, and require changes in the individual to restore homeostasis. We shall also use the term to represent the result of several kinds of dysfunctional or irrational thinking.