Saturday, 28 March 2015

Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.

Rational Emotive Behaviour Education (REBE) is a psychotherapy-based system of behaviour education based on Albert Ellis' ABC Theory of Emotional (and behavioural) Disturbance. It teaches that the events in our lives PLUS our constructed beliefs (personal philosophies about self, others and life) drive our behavioural and emotional responses to situations (A+B=C). It is not the event itself alone that causes emotional and behavioural disturbance. (A=C).

This is not a ‘think positive and everything will be OK’ approach, it is not the vacuous ‘there, there all will be OK’ mantra of the ‘warm fuzzy’ movement of the 80’s.

Each day students whither in the face of challenge and discomfort, withdrawing from activities they don't like or find 'boring.' 'I don't want to do sport because it's boring' or 'maths is boring and makes me mad.' Each time a student withdraws from challenges her ability to bounce back in adverse times diminishes. They construct the view that 'in life I shouldn't have to do things that are hard and boring and it's not fair when things don't go my way as they must do and I just can't stand it.' This is the motto of the helpless, those who have not been held to account when the going got tough. And the result? Young people are not ready for the real world where they will be held to account and their livelihood will depend on it. Will they then default to the care of their families, the government to look after them in a world that is 'unfair and boring' and which makes them so 'angry/anxious/depressed?'

REBE challenges students to consider if their anger/boredom/anxiety/depression is indeed ‘made’ by other people and events. It explains what constructivism is and how our constructed beliefs drive how we feel and behave. If a student believes that a challenge is not a catastrophe and she can stand discomfort she is more likely to hang in there when the going gets tough. If she believes on the other hand that she ‘shouldn’t be inconvenienced by difficulty and that she can’t stand tough situations' she is more likely to give up and feel angry.

REBE teaches students how to take control of their emotions and behaviours so that they continue to work towards their goals in life. It teaches them that life is not a cakewalk and that things won’t always go their way but to hang tough when the going gets tough.

The staff at Para Hills School P-7 South Australia teach REBE across all curriculum areas and the benefits are many:

  •        Improved attendance
  •        Improved mental health outcomes
  •        Students more engaged in learning
  •        More confident learners

As Dr Albert Ellis once said: 'The universe doesn’t care about you, it’s not for or against you, it just doesn’t give a shit.

Malcom Fraser

This blog post is dedicated to the late Malcolm Fraser. Vale.

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