If certain situations trigger feelings such as fear, anger or depression, this is - as Dr. Albert Ellis assumes - a result of errors of thought, wrong attitudes or convictions. From this insight he has developed rational-emotive therapy.
Rational emotive therapy analyses and differentiates thoughts into:
ill-causing irrational and
rational, reasonable thoughts.
Mr. X has an important meeting. Even days before, he is paralyzed by fear; he cannot sleep and is unable to prepare for the conversation. Finally, he draws back full of self-loathing and depression. Mr Y is in the same situation. He is a little worried and thoughtful, but he prepares as well as he can for the conversation.
Rational emotive therapy now analyses how thinking determines feelings and behaviour.
Mr. Y might think: "It would be a shame if I was rejected at the interview." That's why he worries, but still remains able to act; he thinks rationally.
Mr. X, on the other hand, thinks: "It would be a disaster if I were rejected. That would destroy me. I couldn't bear it. I'd be a loser." Mr. X is paralyzed and unable to prepare; he reacts irrationally.
People who suffer from depression often feel responsible for things that are out of their control. Typical, disease-causing thoughts and statements of this patient group are: "I am no good - everything is pointless - I am a failure - Nobody cares about me - I do everything I do wrong - I can't do it - Nobody can help me in the end".
In the therapy session the patient's way of thinking is analysed. The patient is instructed to observe themselves systematicall and learns to accept themselves and to question their attitudes. They learn to perceive ascending fears, depression and anger in tim and can then use strategies to prevent difficulties. In this way the patient learns to change former patterns of thinking in order to achieve more of what they desire in life in the long term.