Psychotherapy Handout: Emotional Disturbance in a Nutshell

I have a favorite handout that I give to 90% of my clients at some point in therapy. It is called, Emotional Disturbance in a Nutshell, by Albert Ellis. What I love about this handout is that it is easily accessible and understandable. From the founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Dr. Ellis speaks to the very basic principle that our thoughts effect our emotion. He suggests that when we keep our beliefs rational and “self-helping” our goals are more likely to be achieved.

I love this handout for another reason, it offers a visual image of how our thoughts can disturb us and how we can fix or repair our distortions so as to alleviate our distress.

When I teach this handout in therapy I tell the client to go home and teach someone, anyone (the family dog will suffice!). By teaching your learn the material much better. Clients are told that when they come to their next session they will be asked to teach it to me. This set-up all but guarantees that the client will take the material seriously and learn it well enough to explain it to me later. On their returning session, I hand the client the diagram and ask them to, “Teach this to me like I’ve never seen it before.” Almost everyone passes this test and I am given a chance to sharpen their understanding if necessary.

I HIGHLY recommend this handout for every practitioner.

This and other wonderful therapy tools are available on my Tools from Others webpage.