REBT: The limitations and errors in this system of counselling and psychotherapy


Newly released critiques of REBT

Updated: 4th December 2017


Summary critique of REBT 2017Many people are interested in understanding the critique of Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (RE&CBT) created by Dr Jim Byrne, and published in his book titled, Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes: The case against REBT/CBT.

However, because of the time required to read a 518 page book, which costs £21.99 GBP, there is an understandable barrier.

For these reasons, we have now produced a 70 page summary of the book, in the form of a PDF pamphlet, which can be bought, via PayPal, for just £4.99, and delivered to you within 24-48 hours, as an email attachment.

PayPal Buy Now button2To make your purchase,

please use the following PayPal ‘Buy Now’ link: Please send me my copy of the 70 page pamphlet on REBT/CBT



Three Summary Critiques of REBT

by Dr Jim Byrne, 4th December 2017


drjim-counsellor9I was an ardent fan of Dr Albert Ellis, from 1992 to 2007-2009.

I was a fanatical adherent of his system of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).

But things began to go wrong – initially in some minor ways – from about 2005-2006, when I was involved in running the Justice for Albert Ellis Campaign (JAEC), to try to get him reinstated as president of the Albert Ellis Institute, and to the board of that institute. During this time, the curtains were drawn back, and I got to see ‘behind the scenes’ of Albert Ellis’s ‘inner circle’.  And some of the things I saw began a slow rot in the foundations of my fanaticism.

As a result, from about 2009 onwards, I began to write down my thoughts about REBT, and my growing insights into its flaws and weaknesses. And now you can have access to those documents in three forms:

  1. From 2009 to about 2013, I wrote several papers which identified some major weaknesses in the foundations of REBT theory and practice.  Now available as pamphlet No.P1 below.
  2. I have recently published a book critiquing RE & CBT, and published the 70 page summary in the form of a PDF pamphlet, (No. P2), available through PayPal. And:
  3. In 2003, I had published a long paper attempting to defend REBT from an attack launched by Frank Bond and Windy Dryden (1996). Now available as pamphlet No.P3 below.



Wounded psychotherapistThen in 2013, I published a book which pulled some of those insights together, combined with my psychoanalysis of Albert Ellis’s childhood, and how his horrible childhood affected the extremely Stoical (and extremely dehumanising) nature of REBT. Available here.***

In 2016, I published a new book (on Holistic Counselling in Practice), with Renata Taylor-Byrne, outlining my alternative to REBT – a new system of counselling and therapy called Emotive-Cognitive Embodies Narrative Therapy (E-CENT counselling). Available here.***

Then, in 2017, I published a major critique of REBT, in a book titled Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes, which contains a new critique of some of Albert Ellis’s core beliefs, and in Part 2, I presented some of the most important papers I had produced between 2009 and 2013.  Available here.***


The three new pamphlets

Because there is so much material involved in these critiques, I have now decided to release three PDF documents, at low cost:

No. P1: My Core Critique of REBT from 2009-2013

Core critique, 2009, 2013

Reflections upon some features of Albert Ellis and his Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy

By Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

4th December 2017


This twenty-four page PDF pamphlet has three parts, as follows.

Part 1, written in July 2017, is a summary of my position regarding Albert Ellis, as somebody who influenced me for a long period of time. Then, I describe how and why I became disillusioned with his philosophy of life, and his model of the human mind. And then I present three piece of my ‘psychoanalysis’ of Albert Ellis, as it relates to the evolution of his philosophy of life.

In Part 2, I present a very brief introduction to my book – Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes – in just four and a half pages.  This flags up some of the key points that I have been able to invalidate in that book

Part 3 is a summary of our foundational critique of REBT, based on a range of (eight) papers produced between 2009 and 2013.

…end of extract.

This material is now available as a 24-page PDF pamphlet, for just £3.95 GBP.

PayPal Buy Now button2To make your purchase,

please use the PayPal ‘Buy Now’ link: Please send me my copy of  ‘My Core Critique of REBT from 2009-2013′, by Dr Jim Byrne – for just £3.95



No. P2: Summary Critique of REBT from 2017

Summary critique of REBT 2017A brief (70 page) summary of my book, on the unfitness of REBT for therapeutic purposes, titled

Summary Critique of REBT from 2017

by Dr Jim Byrne

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne 2017

4th December 2017



This document began its life as the reflective summation of my 518 page book: Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes; published in 2017.

The reason for the production of this 70 page summary, in PDF form, is to make the essence of my latest critique available to the widest possible audience at the lowest possible cost.

Because Chapter 15 of my 2017 book is complete as it stands, I have reproduced it without any changes…


Reflective Summation


In this chapter, I aim to pick up any loose ends from the whole body of this book, and clarify any outstanding issues. I have also presented my final comment on the status of REBT, in my estimation, today.


The beginning

In Chapter 1, I explored the beginnings of psychotherapy, in the form of Freud’s psychoanalysis; outlined the cognitive turn; and then looked at the origins of Albert Ellis’s Rational Therapy, which became REBT. In particular, I showed that Ellis had misunderstood the problem of learned helplessness – in dogs and humans.  He thought dogs could easily ‘forget their god-awful past experiences’ because they did not use language. And that humans got stuck with their ‘god-awful past experiences’ because of their tendency to think about them, and to think about their thinking about them.

PayPal Buy Now button2To make your purchase,

please use the following PayPal ‘Buy Now’ link: Please send me my copy of the 70 page pamphlet on REBT/CBT, for just £4.95



No. P3: The 2017 Update of The Psychological Models Underpinning REBT

2017B Psychological models of REBTA brief 34-page PDF pamphlet, titled

The 2017 Update of The Psychological Models Underpinning REBT


By Dr Jim Byrne

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2017



This thirty-four page PDF pamphlet was previously published as Chapter 7 of Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes: The case against Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (RE&CBT), by Jim Byrne, in 2017.  It was originally published as E-CENT paper No. 1(a), at which time it was 77 pages.

It is presented here in the form established in July 2017, with a few minor amendments and additions from November 2017.

Jim Byrne, 4th December 2017


The Psychological Models Underpinning REBT


This chapter was originally published as E-CENT Paper No. 1(a) in December 2009, at a time when I was determined to rescue REBT from a critique launched by Frank Bond and Windy Dryden.  And, although I thought I had done a fair job of rescuing the ABC model, at that time, in fact I actually torpedoed the model below the waterline, by ‘adding back the body’.

I was obliged by the evidence to add back to body, to take account of various psychological models of human emotions (including James-Lange and Cannon-Bard).  However, it would be quite some time before I realized, that, having added back the body, I would have to take account of the relationship between the human body and the brain-mind.  This would bring the questions of diet and exercise to centre stage, and downgrade the vaunted ‘belief system’ to a more sensible size!

PayPal Buy Now button2To make your purchase,

please use the following PayPal ‘Buy Now’ link: Please send me my copy of pamphlet No. P3: The 2017 Update of The Psychological Models Underpinning REBT, for just £2.95 GBP


Or you can buy the following books to get the fine details of these  critiques:

The book that reveals the fundamental falsehoods at the heart of REBT/CBT

Cover444Many of this author’s criticisms of REBT apply equally to all forms of CBT which utilise the ABC model of human disturbance.

Dr Byrne begins by showing that Dr Ellis was wrong on two major counts:

Firstly, Ellis’s claim that there is a difference in degree of disturb-ability of humans and other animals, and that the cause of that difference is the existence of language, and the capacity that provides to humans to think about their experiences, and to think about their thinking.  Dr Byrne presents scientific evidence to refute this line of reasoning by Dr Ellis.

And secondly, Ellis’s claim that he had evidence (in the form of a foundational case study) that people are upset by their thinking, plus their thinking about their thinking.  In a line by line analysis of the relevant text from Dr Ellis’s 1962 book, Dr Byrne destroys the basis of this false claim.

Byrne then explores the value and veracity of some of the core principles of Stoicism , which are built into REBT/CBT, and finds that they do not stand up to scrutiny!

There are at least seven key errors in the foundations of REBT, many of which overlap CBT practice.

These systems of therapy are enjoying a short-lived popularity which will end in tears.

If you are an REBT or CBT therapist, then you need to review the content of this book, to understand the errors at the heart of this system of philosophising about human emotional and behavioural disturbances.

And if you are a student who is considering using some elements of REBT in your future counselling or therapy work, then you need to read this analysis.  You need to know that it is based on some serious errors which, it is not too strong a claim to state, are forms of madness!

It is madness to deny the impact of the social environment upon the body-brain-mind of the client.  It is madness to blame the client for their emotional disturbances.  And it is madness to copy the delusions of a first century Roman slave, instead of being informed by the research evidence of modern social psychology, neuroscience, and interpersonal neurobiology!

Get this book today, if you want to eliminate these errors from your own thinking and your own work.  Or you want to avoid learning them in the first place.  This book will also inform you of the importance of fairness and morality in counselling and therapy, and improve your capacity to think about the human body-brain-mind, and the true causation of emotional disturbances.

Get the book here, now: Amazon Canada
Amazon Australia Amazon Netherlands Amazon Germany
Amazon Italy Amazon India Amazon France
Amazon Spain Amazon Brazil Amazon Japan

…For more information about the contents of this book please go to the dedicated web page, here: Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes (RE&CBT)…***


A revolutionary book on the childhood of Albert Ellis and the impact of his suffering on the shape of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

Wounded-psychotherapist-ellis‘A Wounded psychotherapist’ is a thoroughly researched and tightly argued book by Dr Jim Byrne.  It is an analysis of both the childhood of Dr Albert Ellis (the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy [REBT]), and how some of those childhood experiences most likely gave rise to certain features of his later philosophy of psychotherapy.

If you have ever wondered what the roots of REBT might have been, and how valid they are, then this is the book for you.  it explores the childhood difficulties of Albert Ellis, and links those difficulties forward to the ways in which REBT was eventually shaped.

It also identified the strengths and weaknesses of REBT, and proposes an agenda for reform of this radical system of psychotherapy. To read more, please go to: A Wounded Psychotherapist: Albert Ellis’s childhood and the strengths and limitations of REBT.***

Or buy it here:

Buy it now: A Wounded Psychotherapist: The childhood of Albert Ellis, and the limitations of REBT/CBT

Amazon in the US Amazon in UK (and Ireland)
Amazon in Canada Amazon in Italy
Amazon in Germany Amazon in France
Amazon in Japan Amazon in Australia


Or, you can buy some of the original papers in which I worked out my understanding of the flaws in the theory and practice of REBT:

Articles and papers on the theory and practice of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

PapersOnREBTHere is a selection of the articles and papers in which I explored and investigated the strengths and weaknesses of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, over a period of years:

Byrne, J. (2009) Rethinking the psychological models underpinning Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). E-CENT Paper No.1(a).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT.  Brief extract: Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT) arose out of Dr Byrne’s attempts to reconcile Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) and certain other elements of therapy systems that he found useful: commencing with Transactional Analysis (TA), Zen philosophy, and later, attachment theory.  It was also shaped by his discovery of some limitations of certain aspects of REBT theory.  However, much of the foundations of REBT still serve as important elements of E-CENT.  Pages: 24.  Available online: Complex ABC Model of REBT***

Byrne, J. (2009) Beyond REBT: The case for moving on.  E-CENT Paper No.1(b).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT.  Brief extract: For a good number of years, Dr Byrne failed to notice that REBT was strongly (if unintentionally) advocating that people ignore social norms regarding moral judgement.  For example, Dr Ellis’s repeated references to the claim that “Hitler was not a bad man!”  And “Why must life be fair?”  These seemed to be ‘harmless therapeutic tools’, but the time would come when they would be applied socially as guides to action or non-action.  The author was finally awoken to this danger by widely circulating reports of the way in which Dr Ellis was treated in the final years of his life by some of his former colleagues; and by counter claims of immoral behaviour by Dr Ellis.  Pages: 10. Available online: Beyond REBT: The birth of E-CENT***

Byrne, J. (2011) Additional limitations of the ABCs of REBT.  E-CENT Paper No.1(c).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENTBrief extract: E-CENT has problems with the simple A>B>C model of REBT, and we have evolved a more complex model of the ABCs, which are in line with Dr Albert Ellis’s more complex thinking from 1958-1962. The simple A>B>C model is useful and helpful, if used cautiously.  It isan oversimplification of what happens in human functioning.  It asserts that (1) something happens (at point A); then (2) the individual adopts a belief about it (at point B); and finally (3) this results in an emotional and behavioural response (at point C).  Actually, human functioning is much more complex than this.  Pages: 15.  Available online: Further problems with the ABCs of REBT***

Bond&Dryden2Byrne, J. (2011)  On the Conceptual Errors of Bond and Dryden (1996): or how to scientifically validate the central hypotheses of REBT. E-CENT Paper No.1(d).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT.  Brief extract: This paper was originally written as ABC Occasional Paper No.7, and published six years before the first E-CENT paper above, in August 2003. This document was designed as the first of several inquiries into the nature and veracity of Bond and Dryden’s (1996) critique of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). (See also E-CENT Paper No.1(a) above).  The author was convinced that REBT could be effectively defended against these criticisms, and that the work of Dr Albert Ellis could be shown to be beyond reproach.  In practice, this document identified some conceptual errors on the part of Drs Bond and Dryden, but also some ambiguous formulations of his ideas by Dr Albert Ellis.  Pages: 90. Available online: Conceptual errors of Bond and Dryden (1996)***

Byrne, J. (2010) Fairness, Justice and Morality Issues in REBT and E-CENT. E-CENT Paper No.2(b).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT.  Brief extract: An E-CENT  therapist cannot ignore problems of social injustice.  It would be immoral for a therapist to always assume their clients are wrong in claiming that they are being treated unfairly.  It could also have a detrimental effect on the well-being of an individual to have their just claim for fairness dismissed out of hand by their counsellor or therapist.  And in discounting claims of unfairness by a client, the therapist runs the risk of road-blocking their communication.   Pages: 41.  Available online: Fairness, Justice and Morality in REBT and E-CENT*** 

Byrne, J. (2010) Self-acceptance and other-acceptance in relation to competence and morality. E-CENT Paper No.2(c).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT.  Brief extract: Dr Byrne’s stance on acceptance is this: “I do not accept you (or anybody else) unconditionally.  There is no law of the universe that says I must do so!  And there may be a virtual law of the universe that says I must respond (relatively) vengefully whenever anybody treats me unfairly, according to Haidt (2006).  Instead of offering individuals Unconditional Acceptance, E-CENT therapists offer One-Conditional Acceptance: ‘I will accept you totally without reserve, no matter how incompetently or inefficiently you act or think, so long as your are committed to living a moral life.  That is an absolute condition of our relationship.”   Pages: 44. Available online: One-conditional self acceptance***  .

Byrne, J. (2011) Some clarifications of the parting of the ways: An open letter to Dr Albert Ellis, on the fourth anniversary of his death. E-CENT Paper No.12.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT..  Brief extract: This paper is written in the form of an open letter to Dr Albert Ellis, and this is how I defined my goals for the writing of this document: (1) to honour your value as a human being, and as a great psychotherapist, who helped me, and perhaps tens of thousands of others, to get over their emotional disturbances – through your therapy sessions, books, videos, audio programs, public lectures, and (in my case) personal letters and emails; and: (2) to clarify some of the ways in which I have moved on from REBT into the somewhat overlapping territory of E-CENT.Pages: 18.  Available online: An open letter to Albert Ellis about REBT and E-CENT theories*** 

Byrne, J. (2012) Reviewing some strengths and weaknesses of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) – and outlining some innovations.  E-CENT Paper No.22.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT.  The author explores his association with Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT); outlines some of its strengths; summarizes the main weaknesses and deficiencies in REBT; and looks at the role of Goals in human disturbance.  He also explores the concept of ‘human emotional needs’, which is not considered valid in REBT; explores some refinements of the A>B>C model; illustrates aspects of the complex A>B>C model; and critiques the typical structure of an REBT session. He then advocates restoring the Stimulus>Organism>Response model to replace the A>B>C model; outlines the E-CENT session structure; and contrasts the process of ‘disputing irrational beliefs’ with the gentler, less conflictual process of ‘re-framing the problem’, which is used in Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).  Available online: Reviewing some strengths and weaknesses of REBT.***

Byrne, J. (2012) My final farewell to Dr Albert Ellis: An open letter.  E-CENT Paper No.23.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT.  Just as on previous anniversaries of the death of Dr Albert Ellis, I feel the need to communicate with that part of Al which is still stuck in my mind.  I am striving to achieve completion with that part of him, and I believe I have finally achieved it with this open letter.  Just as on previous anniversaries of the death of Dr Albert Ellis, I feel the need to communicate with that part of Al which is still stuck in my mind.  I am striving to achieve completion with that part of him, and I believe I have finally achieved it with this open letter.  Available online: Final Farewell to Albert Ellis…***



2 thoughts on “REBT: The limitations and errors in this system of counselling and psychotherapy

  1. I’d love to read more about your criticism of REBT. I don’t like the way REBT dehumanizes people for not living up to the stoic ideal. I also don’t like that REBT takes literally the metaphor of mental illness and treats suffering as a disease. I recently posted some clips of Szasz and Ellis debating to my blog,
    It is so obvious that Ellis lacks the ability to think outside of the box or in abstract terms. I think you are correct in that he found a religion that worked for coping with life and applied it to the rest of human suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. RET brings artificial difference in thought and emotion. Thought need not be precede emotion always as REBTs believe. Emotion is powerful force and can be precede action due to habitual force. People who are emtional oreiented could not get much help from REBT.


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