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 The Efficacy of Rational Emotive Therapy: A Quantitative Review of the Outcome Research.

Reviewers of RET outcome literature have raised many criticisms regarding RET outcome research. One such criticism involves the issue of "elegant" vs. "inelegant" RET (Ellis, 1980). Ellis describes inelegant RET as other forms of cognitive behavior modification, while "elegant" RET refers to the specific approach advocated by Ellis and others. Similarly, Wessler (1983) claimed the researcher frequently misunderstands the therapeutic approaches of RET, or else mislabels or misrepresents the procedure until it is no longer RET. Thus, the question to be investigated is : Does the degree of similarity of the treatment to RET influence effect size.

Several reviewers have criticized the methodological quality of RET outcome studies (e.g., DiGuiseppe and Miller, 1977; Ledwidge, 1978; Prochaska, 1984; Zettle and Hayes, 1980). Their concerns include low percentage of male subjects; subject solicitation; students vs psychotherapy clients; the number of subjects per comparison; subject and therapist assignment to treatment or control groups; therapist training; treatment duration; individual vs group therapy; and reactivity and type of outcome measure.

Another area of investigation is the issue of using students versus clinical subjects. Ledwidge (1978) and Zettle and Hayes (1980) note in their reviews that most RET studies used students volunteers as subjects. They question the external validity of these studies, since the problems assessed may not be applicable to the typical client. While RET may indeed prove effective with students suffering from test anxiety, it is possible that RET may be relatively ineffective when dealing with more serious clinical problems, like depression, or agoraphobia. In other words, are there differences in effect sizes among studies which use students as opposed to psychotherapy clients?

Reviewers disagree on the therapeutic effectiveness of RET. This point constitutes the core of the present review, what is the therapeutic efficacy of RET? This point is difficult to answer in the context of an individual study or the narrative review, because reviewers can reach very different conclusions given the same evidence. The quantitative review format directly address the question of the therapeutic efficacy of RET without reviewer bias.