Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)



First Advisor

Nick J. Topetzes

Second Advisor

Edward DeRoche


There are many problems in finding a "best" counseling theory. Some theories, such as client-centered therapy, are popular but not necessarily statistically beneficial to the client. Others, such as rational-emotive therapy, are statistically beneficial for the client but not popular. The purpose of this study will be to try to find ways of integrating the strengths of both of these theories.

Eysenck (1965) found that most therapies result in no more improvement than are shown by the mere passage of time. Two-thirds of clients improve with or without treatment. Eysenck, on the other hand, did single out behavior therapy and rational-emotive therapy as two exceptions. Both of these latter therapies result in ninety percent improvement in clients. Behavior therapy, however, will not be dealt with in this paper. Mayer (1969) found that while behavior therapy may be very successful in treating specific problems, residual problems often exist for the client. While there are also problems in adopting orthodox rational-emotive therapy, these problems might be alleviated by the development of a new therapy which combines the positive aspects of both rational-emotive therapy and client-centered therapy.

What are the problems with rational-emotive therapy as it is currently practiced? First of all, its use does not seem to be very widespread. Out of a sample of 855 psychologists, less than two percent of them considered themselves to be rational-emotive therapists (Garfield & Kurtz, 1976). Furthermore, the lack of appeal of rational-emotive therapy might not be due to theoretical concepts at all. The book, Your Erroneous Zones (Dyer, 1976), became a best seller while actually paraphrasing most of the ideas of rational-emotive therapy. Perhaps some of the problems limiting the spread of rational-emotive therapy can be traced to the views of its founder, Albert Ellis.

Two possible reasons for Ellis' lack of appeal may be his antagonism toward religion and his use of expletives as a therapeutic technique (Ellis, 1974). A recent study by Newbusch & Horan (1977) showed that clients rated counselors who used profanity less highly both in verbal evaluations and in unobtrusive nonverbal measures. Furthermore, Dr. Maxie C. Maultsby (1975), a disciple of Ellis, suggests that inexact language of any kind is not helpful to the emotionally disturbed (pp. 73-75). In addition, Maultsby views religion as often being a very rational means of coping (Goodman & Maultsby, 1974, pp. 212-214). If more of Ellis' followers became less antagonistic toward religion and made an effort to use more exact language, the growth of rational-emotive ideas might become more widespread.

Other persons might find problems with rational-emotive theory on a more basic level. They might view rational-emotive theory as being too authoritarian or even undemocratic. Perhaps these latter criticisms could be reduced through the incorporation of client-centered principles into the rational-emotive framework.