The counselling process using REBT helps clients to replace absolutist philosophies, full of ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’, with more flexible ones. Part of this includes learning to accept that all human beings (including themselves) are fallible and learning to increase their tolerance for frustration while aiming to achieve their goals.
Although emphasizing the same ‘core conditions’ as person-centred counselling — namely, empathy, unconditional positive regard, and counsellor genuineness — in the counselling relationship, REBT views these conditions as neither necessary nor sufficient for therapeutic change to occur, during the counselling process.
The basic process of change which REBT attempts to foster begins with the client acknowledging the existence of a problem and identifying any ‘meta-disturbances’ about that problem (i.e., problems about the problem, such as feeling guilty about being depressed). The client then identifies the underlying irrational belief which caused the original problem and comes to understand both why it is irrational and why a rational alternative would be preferable.
During the counselling process, the client challenges their irrational belief and employs a variety of cognitive, behavioural, emotive and imagery techniques to strengthen their conviction in a rational alternative. (For example, rational emotive imagery, or REI, helps clients practice changing unhealthy negative emotions into healthy ones at (C) while imagining the negative event at (A), as a way of changing their underlying philosophy at (B); this is designed to help clients move from an intellectual insight about which of their beliefs are rational and which irrational to a stronger ‘gut’ instinct about the same.)
They identify impediments to progress and overcome them, and they work continuously to consolidate their gains and to prevent relapse.