A Unitary or Binary Model of Emotions: A Discussion on a Fundamental Difference between Cognitive Therapy and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy

Philip Hyland, Daniel Boduszek


This primary purpose of this paper is to consider the differential cognitive conceptualization of emotions postulated by the two main schools of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), namely Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) and Cognitive Therapy (CT).While CT theory favours a unitary model of emotional distress, REBT theory posits a binary model of emotional distress. This paper will address how the two approaches differ in their conceptualizations of emotional disturbance and the implications such differences have on clinical, theoretical, and research practice in both psychotherapy and psychology. A review of the relevant empirical literature will be presented with a recommendation for how future research can better investigate the differing predictions made by REBT and CT theory, respectively.

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