Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy and Christian Principles in Young Adults
The goal of rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) is to help people address and resolve behavioral and emotional problems so that they can lead fuller, happier, and better lives (Dryden, 2005). In many ways, Christian principles are similar, as a relationship with Jesus Christ often helps people live their lives in better ways, feel happier, and find a sense of fulfillment (Nielsen, Johnson, & Ellis, 2001). Getting the two to work together, though, can be somewhat difficult because psychology and religion have long been at odds when it comes to how issues from the past should be handled. This does not mean that psychology and religion cannot work together, though, and because there are ways to tie them together it is possible to use both to help young adults with the issues with which they struggle as they grow and mature in society.
First, one has to look at REBT itself. Helping people address and accept emotional and behavioral issues that are currently in their lives or that are being dredged up from their past is a valid and important goal (Ellis, Abrams, & Abrams, 2008). Counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists are, as a whole, deeply committed to ensuring that people are able to work through the difficulties they face and lead lives that make them happy and content. Fulfillment of goals and desires is important, but feeling fulfilled as a human being is something that comes from within and that can be hindered by emotional and behavioral baggage (Ellis & Dryden, 2007). With REBT, the acknowledgement of these issues must come first. Then, the working through of the issues becomes the focus. The specific technique used is talk therapy, because medication is not going to cause someone to forget about his or her emotional or behavioral issues or work through them in a healthy way.
Second, it is very important to look at the main values and tenets of Christianity when it comes to how people relate to themselves, one another, and their pasts. The belief in Christ and His death and resurrection is at the core of Christianity, but there is much more to it than that (Nielsen, Johnson, & Ellis, 2001). For example, those who believe that God makes people a certain way for a reason, and that He does not make mistakes, must rationalize that the emotional and behavioral issues they are facing are for a purpose. These issues may be to teach them something, or they may be to teach someone else something, but they are not just burdens to bear (Nielsen, Johnson, & Ellis, 2001). Seeing these issues as valuable learning tools instead of just painful problems, though, can take time and work. Especially with young people who may not be as capable of coping with problems and issues in life, there can be many fears and difficult moments when dealing with emotional and behavioral issues without any kind of counseling, help, or support.
The third issue to face when considering Christian principles and REBT is that young adults are often different in how they look at the world than older people. It is very important for anyone working with them to be clearly aware of that so that information presented to these younger people can be presented in a way to which they can fully respond. As society becomes more secular, these younger people may not get any kind of Christian education at home. They are certainly not getting it in school anymore, and if they do not have peers who are religious, they may know little about God and His love for them. Not all young people who hear about God want a relationship with Him, but when it can be incorporated into REBT techniques and tools, they are likely to be more receptive (Dryden, 2005; Nielsen, Johnson, & Ellis, 2001). Overdoing the "religious" aspect of counseling with those who are not religious may turn them away from getting help, so a balance must be sought.
For teenagers and those who are still very young, there is a great deal of peer pressure. If a young person's peers do not feel that Christianity is "cool," it will be more difficult to get that young person to be receptive to it. However, there is a way to address Christianity…