The Role of "The Classics" in the Present and Future of Psychology - Report from the IV International Congress of REBT

The Role of The Classics in the Present and Future of Psychology - Report from the IV International Congress of REBT

From 13 to 15 September & nbsp; in Romania the fourth international congress of REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) was held entitled The Role of "The Classics" in the Present and Future of Psychology. Two hundred participants, a bit like what happened in certain one-time conferences where everyone knew each other. The advantage? The possibility of a real exchange between all those present .. & nbsp;

REBT is the primitive form of cognitive therapy and somehow shares with Beck and Clark's cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) the definition of standard form of cognitive therapy. This is partly true if only because REBT first affirmed the principle of the primacy of cognitive mediation as a key for the explanation of mental states, both emotional and symptomatic. On the other hand, however, REBT never produced the rigorous specific efficacy studies for psychiatric diagnosis that made Beck and Clark's worldly fortune of CBT. This is its disadvantage. In this sense, we may suspect REBT enjoys the status of standard and proven cognitive therapy for a sort of osmosis with CBT. It is a somewhat parasitic condition that many other cognitive therapies also enjoy which, however, do not have the historical merits of REBT.

However, REBT also has its strengths. While the international CBT congress in Berlin in July was a pharaonic event with thousands of participants, there were two hundred at the REBT, a bit like what happened in certain one-time congresses in which everyone knew each other. The advantage is the possibility of a real exchange between everyone, while instead at the Pharaonic congress we end up closing in the bubble of the symposia and workshops that interest the individual. Another advantage is the lesser dispersion: at the CBT congress, alongside the uniform scientific rigor of the mainstream, all declined according to the British CBT model of the Oxford triad (Clark, Salkovskis and Fairburn) of the presentations, there is an excessive variety of the educational background , in which everything now flows, including constructivist or integrated paths very far from CBT. At the REBT congress, however, everyone shares a common training path and this facilitates clinical and technical discussion.

However, the main strength of REBT is another: its operating principle has its own specific characteristics which are different from CBT which somehow anticipated some recent developments in cognitive therapy. The primacy of information in REBT is declined according to principles that are largely procedural and metacognitive and not of content as in CBT: while in CBT the dysfunctional emotional state is managed by reasoning to what extent a certain risk is real, in REBT it puts the intolerability and non-acceptance (called "demand", demand, or "should", duty) of a negative scenario is under discussion. We work not on a forecast but on an evaluation of an emotional state, and therefore meta-emotionally if not precisely metacognitively.

The fate of REBT plays on this possibility of future development and Daniel David, congress organizer and professor at the University of Cluj Napoca, played on it in the introductory plenary, developing these analogies between REBT and third-wave procedural models. However, David also bridges certain constructivist developments that look at tacit and implicit cognitive processing and which have somehow come closer to the psychodynamic model. But I wonder if David understands that the two paths are incompatible alternatives. Processualism focuses on executive mental functions subject to voluntary and conscious control, constructivism favors implicit, unconscious and non-executive processes.

A similar, but more clinical, speech to David's was proposed by Raymond DiGiuseppe - current teaching director of the Ellis Institute in New York and professor at St. John University - in his plenary dedicated to the clinical characteristics of REBT.

Saturday confirmed this convergence between REBT and processualism with two other plenaries, that of Douglas Mennin of Columbia University who exposed his processualist model, the Emotion Regulation Therapy, underlining the similarities with REBT, and that of Steven Jay Lynn , who investigating the many shortcomings of our knowledge on psychotherapy has rightly concluded that the future development of this discipline will increasingly privilege the exploration of processes.

During the congress there were many symposia that dealt with the cross-cultural problems of applying REBT in countries of South America and Eastern Europe where REBT institutes are present, such as Peru, Argentina, Romania and Turkey. The main problems seem to be the clash between the promotion of relational autonomy facilitated by the REBT and the patriarchal and traditionalist residues of these societies where social control prevails over individual autonomy. Another limitation is the difficulty of spreading the possibility of increasing the sense of agency and mastery by means of the REBT dispute in cultures that seem instead to favor the insurmountability of emotional states, a problem that in truth seems to concern also Italy and which perhaps it concerns more therapists than patients.

Finally, Sunday was the closing day with the presentations of Arthur Freeman and Irving Kirsch. Freeman was very evocative and engaging, describing the development of REBT from the time of Albert Ellis to the present and encouraging future developments while Kirsch explored the placebo effect of psychotropic drugs revealing to us that it is much broader than we thought. The consequences of such reflection are encouraging and discouraging for psychotherapy. Encouraging because they confirm that even in psychotropic drugs, the effect is more psychological than chemical, which consoles us psychotherapists. However, such a result must not console us too much because the psychological process of placebo turns out to be too vague to be interpreted as a data in favor of the strength of psychological processes, somehow close to the class of so-called common factors. We cannot be satisfied with such a generic effect. Psychotherapy will develop as we understand its specificity of action that cannot be resolved in a vague encouragement of the patient's expectations and hopes, as the placebo effect does.

REBT in Italy: the slides of the speech by Giovanni M. Ruggiero
Topic of the article: Psychotherapy

The 9th World Congress of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies (WCBCT) has started in Berlin, the first day was full of symposia and discussions

ISSN 2280-3653 - Newspaper. Registration at the Court of Milan n. 587 of 2-12-2011 - Head of Management: Giovanni Maria Ruggiero.

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Events in Cluj napoca