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Eowyn's Heart

The name of this blog is based on the character Eowyn from Lord of the Rings because I strongly identify with her on many levels. The purpose of this blog is to proclaim the glory of my Lord and King through His work in conforming me into the image of His Son, Christ Jesus. In all things, I trust you will see His hand at work.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cognitive Behavioral Theory Critique

Personal Evaluation
Overall, I appreciate the general direction of the cognitive behavioral theory as it is geared toward paying attention to one's own thought processes and the affect these have on our behavior. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that man is what he thinks, Philippians 4:8 goes into great detail about the things Christians should choose to dwell on, and 2 Corinthians 10:5 is clear in its instruction to take "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (NASB). Biblically, it is clear that thinking is essential to behavior and it is controllable.
In regards to the specific approaches addressed herein I was drawn to many of the techniques but not impressed by the concepts behind many of those techniques. For example, REBT proposes that people do not "need" love and acceptance. Considering that God Himself said, "it is not good that man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18, NKJV), I have to disagree. I also disagree with the REBT view of the client/therapist relationship. However, the techniques used in REBT are something I am likely to incorporate into my own therapeutic practice.


Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. (8th ed.). USA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Hinkley, P. (n.d.). Cognitive behavior therapy presentation. Retrieved July 23, 2009 from http://www.liberty.edu/media/1413/COUN510/Cognitive_Behavior_Therapy/index.html.


Anonymous Will said...

Hi Eowyn,

Thanks for helping to spread the word about REBT. I like your brief summaries of the various CBTs.

I’d encourage you to take a closer look at REBT. I think you’ll find that it’s more in tune with Scripture than you’ve suggested.

REBT (along with Genesis 2:18) agrees that life is better if we take an interest in others, and have friends and healthy relationships.

REBT says that although love and acceptance are good for us, we don’t absolutely need them. While life is clearly better with love and acceptance, it's not the end of the world if we don’t have it.

This is a view shared by Scripture.

Jesus knew that his disciples would betray him, but he didn’t change course to gain their approval (Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27).

And of course, Luke (9:25) poses the rhetorical question, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

Scripture is quite clear on this: It is better to do what is right than to do what is popular.

On the subject of the therapeutic alliance, REBT believes that the therapist should accept her clients without being over friendly with them. Being too friendly encourages a client to become dependent on his therapist and afraid of losing her approval. Therapists are encouraged to show their clients that they are no less worthy than anyone else. The REBT therapeutic alliance is informal and sprinkled with respectful good humor. What’s not to like about it?



1:20 PM  
Blogger Eowyn7 said...

Hi Will,

Thanks for your respectful comments and your alternative perspective. I see your point regarding Christ and the Luke passage, however, I still disagree with the idea that love is not a need.

The only thing that was "not good" in the course of creation was Adam's lack of companionship. It wasn't until he had an intimate relationship with another human (Eve) that God declared things not just "good," but "very good."

There are more reasons buzzing around in my head but I haven't the time right now to research the exact scripture passages to back up my point so I'll leave it at this: Yes, perhaps "acceptance" (at least on a human-to-human level) is not needed, but I still firmly believe that love is.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Hi Eowyn,

It depends how you define “need”.

In REBT a need is seen as something that is essential to life.

For example, without oxygen, you will die. Ditto for food, water, and shelter. They are all needs.

But what about love? Will an adult die if he or she is unloved? Hardly.

Many people, sadly, go through life without ever being in a loving relationship. Would their lives be happier and richer with love? Probably. But do they curl up and die because nobody loves them? No.

The problem with believing that love is a need is that it leads us to become overly anxious about being unloved. And it leads us to become sycophantic, forever fretting that our actions will drive others away.

Imagine how much you’d panic if you thought you were going to be deprived of oxygen? If you view love as being as necessary as oxygen, the thought of being loveless brings on a similar panic.

The REBT solution is to seek love, to want love, to strongly desire love. Love is a wonderful thing. REBT encourages us to enter into loving relationships and to do what we can to have them flourish.

But REBT discourages us from exaggerating the effects of being loveless and discourages us from demanding love.

Importantly, REBT encourages us -- if we’re unlucky enough to be without love -- to find other ways to enrich our lives without dwelling on, or depressing and panicking ourselves over, the lack of love in our lives.

I don’t know for sure, because I’ve never asked him, but I suspect that Adam was much happier with Eve in his life. But he survived for a time without her, and he no doubt could have continued to survive without her. As you point out, God realized that His gift of Eve changed life in Eden from “good” to “very good.” He did not, however, at anytime suggest that life without Eve was impossible.

If you define a need any other way, then you may be right; love may be, by your personal definition, a need. But if you define a need as something essential to life – as REBT does – then love, unlike oxygen, is quite clearly not a need.



P.S. I’m curious to know: what is it about the REBT view of the client/therapist relationship you disagree with?

5:36 PM  
Blogger Eowyn7 said...

Hi Will,

Your point is well made and, in combination with a passage read this morning in John Ortberg's "The Life You've Always Wanted" (2002) - specifically the section about "The Morphing of Mabel" (pages 22-25), I'm seeing things a bit differently.

I still see love as a need - but not so much human-to-human love anymore. I'm beginning to think that the love we need is that which comes from our Savior. There is much to consider here and I need to read and pray more to let the Holy Spirit teach me truth in this matter.

As to the view of the client/therapist relationship, I think the client/therapist relationship presented in REBT (not needing to be warm but demonstrating respect and acceptance), is fine for certain types of clients with certain types of issues. For instance, if someone wants to quit smoking or needs career counseling or wants to learn better social skills - in these cases REBT might be just the ticket. However, when it comes to matters deeper in the heart - recovery from rape or molestation, grieving the loss of a loved one, a battered wife, for instance - these REQUIRE (In my personal opinion) a deeper relationship than simple respect and acceptance. These require warmth and empathy - especially empathy, which is not part of REBT. There are just some instances where REBT would be a great therapeutic process to employ and others where it is not suitable at all.

12:36 PM  
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