Saturday, 18 April 2015

Positive Psychology and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy

The ABC Theory of Emotional Disturbance illustrates how feelings and behaviour at C are determined by what happens at A and B i.e. what we believe (B) about what happens (A). This is an A+B=C philosophy. What happens when our constructed view of ourselves equates to an A=C way of believing e.g. failing at A makes me feel depressed at C and causes me to give up.

An A=C philosophy ‘If I fail at A I feel really bad at C 'it' (A) makes me angry and sad’ is problematic for our less resilient kids because they are unaware that constructed beliefs at B have a lot to do with it!

A is what happens e.g. 'someone has rejected me!' and C is how I feel and act in response to A e.g. 'I feel really sad because she has rejected me so I stay at home etc' The depth of despair and how long it lasts will depend on how self accepting the person is.

If a child ‘needs’ the approval of others he/she is at risk of depression, anger, anxiety because their psychological well being depends on how others view them. We want students to have such a strong sense of self-worth that rejection and failure will not be as damaging as could otherwise be (What I think of me is more important that your view of me!)

Don't tell me your problems

It is easy to say 'you're OK no matter what' but how do you demonstrate how this is true, factual? Here are some strategies you can try!

1. Draw the outline of 3 people with one full of pluses (+) one full of minuses (-) and one containing both (more pluses of course). Discuss which best represents us i.e. are we perfect, are we 'rubbish' or are we a composite of each? Does a negative attribute take away all the positive ones? Does someones negative opinion of you take away your positive attributes?

Don't let istakes define you

2. Let children know they are not their behaviour. Tell them they can act badly but that doesn't make them bad.

3. Tell them that anothers opinion of them does not mean they are that opinion i.e. they don't have to accept another persons appraisal of them (refer to 1. above)

I think I can even if you don't

4. Always give behaviour specific feedback and don't use global rating terms like naughty, bad, lazy etc.

5. Train yourself not to say 'good boy/girl.' Why? Because they can choose good or bad behaviours but they are always worthwhile!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Bully for You! REBT and Self Acceptance - a protective factor against bullying

Rational Emotive Behaviour Education is taught at Para Hills School P-7. REBE helps students to develop a strong and healthy sense of self worth i.e. a confidence that is hard to shake especially when others disapprove of them/bully them. This a way to 'psychologically immunise' students against bullying. 

Bully for You!

Do you think you have nothing to offer
Use self-talk which is negative and untrue
And you don’t think you amount to much?
Then I have just the thing for you!

Bully for you, bully for you
I have a bully for you!

I look for people to victimise
My admiring buddies think I’m great
I like to see fear in your eyes
You deserve to suffer mate!

Bully for you, bully for you
I’m the bully for you.

I will persist, never let up
I don’t consider how you feel
My life’s work is to see you suffer
You don’t matter; you’re no big deal!

Bully for you, bully for you
I’m the bully for you!

We control our thoughts
We are what we perceive
We can choose to be powerless victims
Until we change what we believe

Victim for you, victim for you
Will I be the victim for you?

I’m a worthwhile person
I have qualities unique to me
We are all different from each other
That makes us the same you see?

No, I will not allow you to bully
You don’t have my permission you see
I will not be your sporting obsession
You are not the bully for me!

Bully for me, bully for me.
You are not the bully for me.

The cloak of silence
Is the bully’s best friend
So speak out, everybody
It’s the cloak that’s specially tailored
For you and for me!

Giulio Bortolozzo

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


Behaviour is linked to how we act and feel and Albert Ellis' ABC Theory of Emotional Disturbance is a useful tool to help us (teachers, counsellors, parents) understand what is 'making' that behaviour. 

Should ought and must believing characterise a mindset that generates extreme negative feelings and self defeating behaviours. These constructions have taken away the individuals ability to think and act independently. How?

Conditioned to live up to the expectations of others may render the individual impotent, powerless and paralysed. Consider young Sharon who was brought up to be a good girl. Her parents told her that she should always 'be' polite and she should never 'be' impolite. Polite people were good and 'impolite' people were bad. Sharon strove to be a good girl and to please her parents who would tell her how good she was when she did good. You know the story. Sharon developed extreme anxiety about making mistakes and 'disappointing' others. She would often not attempt things if she thought there was a chance she could stuff up etc etc. All up Sharon danced to the beat of someone elses drum:

  • I must do well and achieve my goals
  • I must not offend, disappoint, let others down
  • I should always be polite 
  • Others should treat me well; they're bad if they don't 

..and the list goes on.

Ellis coined some interesting turns of phrase like musturbation; the tendency to think in musts (and oughts and shoulds). Rational Emotive Behaviour Education helps children develop the ability to question and challenge what underlies the extreme unhelpful emotions and behaviours that conspire against them. Better to think in preferences like:

  • I'd prefer to reach my goals and succeed. (It's OK to try and fail I am not a failure).
  • I'd prefer others to approve of me and appreciate my qualities and capabilities. (It's OK for others to challenge and criticise my actions or other qualities. My worth is not at risk unless I believe it is!)
  • I'd like things to work out for me. (I expect that life will throw up challenges to me - that's how it goes!)

A habit of doing something is linked to a habit of thinking (believing) something. The habit of doing won't change until the habit of thinking that underlies it is changed. This can only be done if the students:

  • Know that thinking feeling and doing are connected
  • Know what they believe 'makes' them act and feel as they do
  • Work hard to replace their 'must' beliefs with 'preference' thinking

A rational and healthy perspective on the self