Although I have a BSc and an MSc in sport psychology, I have always been intrigued by clinical psychology. I had a basic knowledge of counselling and psychotherapy from my undergraduate degree and over time, my interest continued to grow. The more I learnt, the clearer it became as to how different and varied counselling could be compared to what those typical “shrinks” on American movies & sitcoms do, by asking you “so how did that make you feel?” as you laid down on a couch. There are a lot of approaches out there, and as a neophyte practitioner, it is so important that at this stage in my career that I could find and use an approach that fits my personality, and my philosophy. It’s important as a practitioner to use tools that you believe in, as you will be more comfortable when you practice and can ultimately be more effective in your work.
For me, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapies have a philosophy which sits comfortably with me and which I agree with. REBT is considered to be the original form of CBT, and it’s roots are based in the work of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus – “People are not disturbed by things, but by the view which they take of them”. In a nutshell, what this means is that the same adversity may happen to two different people, and two different responses may be observed. If the adversity was really the cause of psychological disturbances, then the exact same response would be observed however we know that this is rarely the case typically. People are entirely individual, from their facial structure, their height, body frame, and of course their psyche and belief systems.
As an REBT practitioner, I teach athletes to try their best to accept their adversities and adapt to them, so that when they do inevitably face adversities or undesirable situations, they can react in ways that are conducive to well-being and enhanced long-term performance. On a further note, educating athletes in REBT, which is in essence a self-help approach, can give them the tools to handle adversities after their careers are over, which can typically be a troublesome period of any athlete’s life. My role as a practitioner isn’t to keep clients dependent on me and this further increases my respect for REBT as technique. If REBT is done well, clients can identify their own irrational beliefs, dispute them, and create and instill new effective rational beliefs and change their cognitions all by themselves. Athletes who have learnt REBT and can use it on themselves effectively are actually empowering themselves by using their own resources, and this is something I would always encourage.
The important thing to remember in life is that things will often go our way. Speaking for myself, I have a wife, a family, a comfortable home, no serious health conditions, prospects, achievements, and hobbies. I consider these things blessings, because if I didn’t have any one of these things my life would be very different. It’s important for me to remind myself of these things when I face adversities as it helps me to keep problems in perspective. REBT has shown me a way in which I can be grateful for everything that occurs, the good with the bad.
I have a sales background, and therefore I’m used to chasing targets, seeing results, understanding processes and amending my behaviours in order to do my job. REBT is fantastic as it provides a clear method and strategy which makes sense, and which a practitioner and client can follow. It allows for individuals to learn about themselves by understanding their patterns of behaviour, emotions, cognitions and also their core beliefs. REBT allows for responses to be identified easily and strategically amended. I feel comfortable knowing that I have a tool which is easy to follow, without which I may get lost during consultancy. Especially at this early stage of my career it is imperative that I have as much help as possible, and REBT’s structure is a reliable guide. I have used REBT across cultures and observed positive results in my clients, so my confidence in REBT has continued to grow. Not only this, but I can be active and directive in my consultancy so that I may challenge clients, and I have noticed that I need not amend my typical/everyday communication style even though I have the freedom to.
Considering the future of my career, I know that the practice of REBT will change and I as a practitioner will change. However, REBT has provided me with a lot of knowledge about myself and has shown me a lot about how I like to practice, and how I can help clients. For anyone wishing to take up applied work, I strongly recommend that they have a good understanding of what approaches are out there and use whatever fits them personally.
REBT is a powerful approach that can be used over the short-term and long-term and can be adapted in its delivery. It is without a doubt, a therapy that I can see myself using until my career is over and then some.
By Muhammad Deen
Muhammad finished his MSc in Sport & Exercise Psychology from Staffordshire University in 2015 and will be beginning a PhD at Staffordshire University in early 2017 to study the practice of REBT and the enhancement of resilience. Life for Muhammad is all about family, travel, learning, and badminton!