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  • Writer's picturelaurenstreetcounselling

It's all in the wording......

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

In one of my first blog posts I highlighted that only 7% of the way we communicate is through the words we use. So much is focused on how we speak and body language that often the smallest part can be forgotten or misused. I want to focus this months blog post on the importance of language in therapy as no matter how small the % of use, it's still vitally important.

One of the key elements of the therapy I practice, Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy or REBT, is using the correct language to determine emotional responsibility. For example "he made me angry" would suggest that someone else has power over you to control your emotions. Part of the therapeutic process is to change this belief to a healthier version "I became annoyed at what he did" as this suggests the person experiencing the emotion decided to become annoyed rather than being forced.

Dr Albert Ellis, the founder of REBT, demonstrated the importance of belief change through his ABC model. He also stressed the importance of how we use language in order to strengthen our healthy beliefs; image below.

ABC Model by Dr Albert Ellis

This model highlights that it's not the events themselves that cause us to think and feel the way we do, it's what we believe or tell ourselves about them. This also needs to be reflected in the language we use to ensure we fully integrate and believe in this process. I work with my clients to teach them the importance of emotional responsibility including how sometimes the language we use can disagree with this.

How many times have you said something along the lines of "you made me do it", "she's at fault not me" or "it's your problem not mine"? You can hear yourself saying it can't you? This indicates that there's either no responsibility on your part or that someone else can influence your emotions. By working with an REBT therapist they can show you that it's your choice to determine how you think and feel about certain events or triggers rather than someone else doing it for you, how amazing is that!

I teach the ABC Model to all of my clients and focus on the importance of language when discussing recent or vivid examples of when they experienced their unhealthy negative emotions. I work with them to understand the healthier version of these emotions through the language they use, paying particular attention to the place they put their emotional responsibility. It can sometimes be a challenging process but like all therapy; nothing changes if nothing changes. I work with clients to make healthier belief changes and accept themselves and others for who they are.

As with learning all new skills this takes time and practice. I often encourage clients to continue working on this between sessions through discussions with family & friends as well as keeping thought journals so they can continue to integrate this skill in the way that suits them the best. Many clients love how emotionally freeing this process can be but also how it can give them back control they didn't think they had.

If you wish to find out more please continue to view the rest of my site, give me a call or send me an email.

Till next time


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