In my long career as a therapist I am reminded continually that just about all people are both born and reared with neurotic tendencies. They have ample opportunity to rehearse these dysfunctional actions, which are practiced both consciously and unconsciously, before they think seriously of reducing them. Most resist giving up their disturbances, even when they see how destructive they are. They have already developed a low frustration tolerance and are unwilling to work with sufficient energy to change themselves.
Of course, it takes significantly longer than three minutes to dislodge the many dysfunctional aspects of a troubled personality. But the clear and simple exercises advocted by Dr. Edelstein, exercises that are totally consistent with my principles of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, can be practiced in three-minute segments, to be repeated several times a day for maximum benefit.
Most people do not know how to change their neurotic thoughts and actions in order to reduce their disturbed feelings. I witnessed this in my patients after I had practiced as a psychoanalyst for six years in the early 1950s. I created Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy in order to solve this important problem in my practice and began using the system in January of 1955. It became quickly apparent that this system was a highly efficient form of psychotherapy that, over time, quickly identified problems in thousands of my patients. As Drs. Edelstein and Steele so ably point out, the three-minute exercises must be practiced regularly and conscientiously, and in serious cases, perhaps for years, since it probably took many years for those seriously disturbed to develop the dysfunctional or neurotic thought patterns that have created the problems.
As humans, we seem to have a talent for disturbing ourselves about innumerable unpleasant events that occur in our lives. We then may react to these "adversities" by making ourselves feel sorry, displeased, or disappointed--all normal reactions. But then we may also feel panicked, depressed, enraged, self-downing, and self-pitying about these unfortunate life experiences, reactions likely to make us miserable and to send us to a therapist for help.
REBT shows you, clearly and precisely, how you needlessly and unhealthily upset yourself, and it gives you many thinking, feeling, and action methods of reducing your disturbances while still retaining your main goals, values, and preferences. If you keep using these methods, you are more likely to be less disturbed and less "disturbable." There are no magic solutions, however, only serious effort.
But as Drs. Edelstein and Steele emphasize, starting to "undisturb" yourself whenever you are really upset can usually be done in three minutes. Continuing to do so takes longer. With the good headstart offered in Three Minute Therapy you can be well on your way.
Of all the books that explain REBT in simple, clear, and highly usable form, Three Minute Therapy is one of the very best. The authors include the main theories and practices of REBT and specifically tell you how to apply them to your own problems. No, this is not a self-help encyclopedia, but it tells you almost everything you will want to know about using REBT in your own life. Read it carefully, several times. Try its methods, many times. Practice is essential.
Every time you heed its three-minute approach you may start to add months and years of healthier and happier existence to your living. Try it and see!
Albert Ellis, Ph.D.
Past President, Albert Ellis Institute
for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy