REBT Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes

Updated on 28th May 2019

My critiques of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

By Dr Jim Byrne

This page was originally dedicated to a single book title, as follows:

Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes – The case against REBT/CBT

Cover444This book is still available for sale, even though it has been superseded by the new book which follows below; titled: A Major Critique of REBT.

Brief description: This book contains a summarized account of the author’s journey through Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) – from beginning to end. He began, in 1992, as a fanatical supporter of REBT, which is the original form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Then, while trying to rescue REBT from two critics (Bond and Dryden, 1996), in the period 2001-2003, he accidentally uncovered several flaws in the foundations of this theory of therapy. Next, he wrote a series of papers, exploring some of the weaknesses of REBT – all the time hoping he would be able to salvage a defensible core of the therapy. But eventually, this led him to the development of a completely new theory of therapy, which rejects virtually all of the major theoretical and practical elements of REBT – apart from those moderate Stoical and moderate Buddhist influences that went into the origin of Dr Albert Ellis’s theory. The intellectual journey described in this book took twenty-five years to complete. And the twists and turns along the way were no less dramatic than the surprising destination.

This book can still be accessed from this page, by clicking the following link: The case against REBT.***


That original book, above, has now been joined by five new titles, the first of which supersedes ‘Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes’:


First: – A Major Critique of REBT: Revealing the many errors in the foundations of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy.

Front cover of reissued REBT bookThis new (2019) book is an improvement on the original (2017) book, for three main reasons:

Firstly, the reason CBT was included in the title was that all systems of CBT, with which I am familiar, are based on the ABC model, as is REBT; and the 2017 book contained a detailed critique of the ABC model.  However, the substance of the 2017 book was about Albert Ellis’s system of REBT, based on his way of presenting and using the ABC model.  So, in the second version, CBT is not mentioned in the title.

Secondly, there was a need to clarify the bottom line of my critique of REBT, and that has been done in a 16 page Preface to the reissued, 2019 edition.

And, thirdly, I have also added a reference to the research which shows that emotional pain and physical pain are both mediated and processed through significantly overlapping neural networks, which contradicts Dr Ellis’s claim that nobody could hurt you, except with a baseball bat.  Emotional pain hurts just as significantly as physical pain, and it’s not okay for therapists to ignore the emotional pain of their clients. (This point had not been made, with scientific evidence, in the 2017 edition).

Apart from these changes, the 2019 version of this major critique of REBT is identical to the 2017 version.  For more details about the contents of the 2019 reissued and updated version, please click this link: A Major Critique of REBT.***


Second: A Brief, Summary Critique of REBT: Discounting our bodies

Front cover paperback 2For those readers who want to know the bottom line of the E-CENT critique of REBT, and who do not have the time or energy for the full 500+ pages of the detailed critique, we have compiled a few summaries of the material, to give you an overview and a sense of the key points of the critique.

This brief summary of my critique contains the 16 page preface to the ‘Major Critique’ book, above. Plus the preface to the first edition of ‘Unfit for Purpose’, and the 70 page summary critique which can be found in both books above.

For more information about this brief, summary critique, please click the following link: Discounting Our Bodies: A Brief, Summary Critique of REBT.***


Third: The Amoralism of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy: The mishandling of self-acceptance and unfairness issues by Albert Ellis

Front cover of paperback1The focus of this book is on the contrast between the REBT and E-CENT positions on the subjects of fairness, justice and morality.

Plus the moral implications of the concept of unconditional self-acceptance.

Plus some ideas about the ways in which we see every human being as having a good and evil side to their personality, and the importance of being committing to growing our good side and shrinking our bad side.

For more information about this new book, please click this link: The Amoralism of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy.***



Fourth: Albert Ellis and the Unhappy Golfer



Fifth: Albert Ellis’s Childhood – The source of his extreme stoicism