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REBT Problem Formulation

In Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) emotional problems are dealt with before any others. The REBT Problem Formulation is designed to help clients to understand and correct unhealthy emotional responses.


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In Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) emotional problems are dealt with before any others. REBT argues that there are two types of emotional response that you can have toward adversities in your life:

  • healthy – which means adequate, helpful and appropriate
  • unhealthy – which are maladaptive, destructive and useless

This worksheet was submitted by Max Ilin


The REBT problem formulation will help you to understand and correct unhealthy emotional responses. It is designed to help you work on one specific emotion at time, encouraging you to develop very specific descriptions of a situation and your responses.The steps are as follows:

  1. Identify the kind of situation in which you have problematic emotion
  2. Isolate one critical activating factor (the crucial relation which you infer between the event in question and your well-being)
  3. Identify bodily sensations through which the emotion is expressed
  4. Create a metaphor – a symbolic analogy of your experience in this situation
  5. Label the problematic emotional response and explore the cognitive (thinking, imaging) and behavioral (acting and intending to act) components of it
  6. Formulate your emotional goal – healthy negative emotion – through the same steps