In the mid 1950s Albert Ellis developed, and began to pioneer, rational therapy (RT; now called rational emotive behavior therapy), which revolutionized the practice of psychotherapy and lent credence the cognitive paradigm shift that also began in the 50s. However, this paradigm shift did not occur without resistance from credible and competing theories. In 1965 a film series titled Three Approaches to Psychotherapy was produced and it included three eminent psychologists of the time: Fritz Pearls, Carl Rogers, and Albert Ellis. Each theorist was allowed one video taped session to treat the same client, which allowed for comparative analysis of the theoretical modalities employed. This essay will take a subjective, yet critical, look at Albert Ellis’ session wherein I will discuss the following: what I found most interesting and why; one additional technique I would add in-session and what I would hope to accomplish with it; and finally ...view middle of the document...
One additional technique that I would have employed if I were leading Gloria’s session is the inclusion psychoeducational methods. I would have spent an appropriate amount of time, depending on Gloria’s aptitude, during the first, and possibly second, session educating her in regard to the nature of her problems, and the subsequent course of therapy. I suspect that Ellis would have done so too in the event that he more sessions scheduled with Gloria, so it is my further assumption that this portion of REBT was omitted for the sake of brevity. However, psychoeducational methods will provide the client with a clinical understanding of their presenting problems and will establish a context and framework, which the proceeding sessions could build upon. In addition, open discussion in regard to the direction of therapy will provide the client with a certain level of clarity on the subject of the dynamic structure of therapy, and it would serve as a segue to address the clients expectations.
While I have deep respect and admiration for Albert Ellis I found his techniques to be a bit invasive at times. As a result, I would have not responded as well to his approach as I would others. He spent, what seemed like, the majority of the session in the role of the speaker and on the few occasions that Gloria spoke, he cut her off or spoke over her. If I were seeking out therapy, I suspect one condition would be that I wanted to be heard. I understand that a therapist is usually a professional who is very educated in psychological theory and therapeutic techniques, but I still would not want my voice drowned out by theirs. Also, I would not be receptive to someone telling me how I feel. I tend to side with Carl Rogers in that the client, in this hypothetical situation me, knows themselves better than anyone else. On multiple occasions Gloria had to correct Ellis, and even then he generally valued his perception of her feelings more than his client’s. In the event that happened to me, it is likely that I would just trudge my way through the session with an understanding that I would not be returning for a second session.