Many therapists cite case after case to support this method.
Certainly, Cognitive Therapy has been shown to be effective with many
depressed persons. There is relatively little objective, long-term
research support for cognitive approaches provided by typical
therapists, however. Perhaps this is because the method is much more
complex than desensitization. Perhaps because it is hard to know for
sure that the research subject's thinking has really changed. Perhaps
because results are delayed--it takes time to change the thinking
which modifies the emotions which then result in visible changes in
behavior. Perhaps because there are several "cognitive" approaches,
all taking a different attack on irrationality and perceptual bias.
A study or two have found RET to be as effective as desensitization
in dealing with fears; another study was inconclusive. As a self-help
method (as distinguished from a therapy technique), there is very little
evidence of its effectiveness. Ellis (1987) himself has observed that
the effectiveness of books, including his own, "is still very limited."
Some of the reasons are discussed above. On the other hand, there is
a consensus among clinicians that cognitive therapy, which includes
RET, is fairly effective with a variety of problems. But, it seems quite
possible to me that others (e.g. a therapist) can detect our faulty
thinking more adroitly than we can ourselves using written guidelines.
We need extensive research.
The advantages of this method are its (1) potential speed and
directness, (2) conceptual simplicity, and (3) applicability to almost
every emotion. There are no known dangers when attacking your own
irrational ideas, but one might expect an argumentative, abrasive
Rational-Emotional therapist to occasionally produce excessive stress
and a "casualty."
Note--beyond the general references cited above, there are
Rational-Emotive or Cognitive books that specialize in depression,
anger, procrastination, relationships and many other areas. See the
specific chapters of interest. Also there has been a new wave of books
addressing harmful specific beliefs and ideas, such as pessimism
(McKay & Fanning, 1991; Lazarus, Lazarus & Fay, 1993; McGinnis,
1990; Seligman, 1991).
These are the better books using some of the RET and cognitive
therapy ideas: Burns, D. (1980); Butler, P. E. (1981); Dyer, W.
(1976); Ellis, A. (1985b, 1987), Ellis, A. & Harper, R. A. (1975a);
Freeman, A. & DeWolf, R. (1989) for overcoming regrets; Flanagan, C.
M. (1990); Hauck, P. A. (1973, 1974, 1975); McMullin, R. E. (1986).
The most recent good references are Young & Klosko (1993), Sills, J.
(1993), McKay & Dinkmeyer (1994), Padesky & Greenberger (1995)
and Greenberger & Padesky (1995). Miller (1995) takes a little
different approach, he urges us to be happy with what we have.