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Educational Psychology in Practice: theory, research and practice in educational psychology


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Helping students manage emotions: REBT as a mental health educational curriculum


Tachelle Banks
a a

Department of Teacher Education, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH, USA Version of record first published: 14 Dec 2011.

To cite this article: Tachelle Banks (2011): Helping students manage emotions: REBT as a mental health educational curriculum, Educational Psychology in Practice: theory, research and practice in educational psychology, 27:4, 383-394 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02667363.2011.624303

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Educational Psychology in Practice Vol. 27, No. 4, December 2011, 383394

Helping students manage emotions: REBT as a mental health educational curriculum


Tachelle Banks*
Department of Teacher Education, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH, USA In preparing children to deal with life in an increasingly complex society, it is important that schools devote attention to well-organised and theoretically sound programmes employing a preventive approach to mental health. Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), as indicated in its name, incorporates changes to thought processes and behaviours. It is a cognitiveemotivebehavioural system of therapy, and is based on the assumption that emotional problems result from illogical and irrational patterns of thinking about an event rather than from the event itself. REBT is a mental health and an educational intervention. It attempts to teach students how to help themselves by providing a structured method of processing extreme emotions. The purpose of this article is to provide practitioners with a knowledge base and practical applications of REBT that have been successfully implemented in various educational contexts. Keywords: Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy; classroom; mental health curriculum

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Introduction Cognitive behavioural interventions (CBIs) attempt to effect behaviour change by teaching relevant tasks that are based around strategies to correct cognitive distortions through the application of logic and the search for evidence (Etscheidt, 1991; Squires, 2001). The interventions are task-oriented and focused on problem solving. The purpose of this article is to provide practitioners with a knowledge base of CBIs and provide practical examples of a CBI Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) that has been successfully implemented in various educational contexts. Empirical investigation of CBIs in educational settings Cognitive behaviour theory (CBT) posits that emotional and behavioural problems result from either cognitive distortions and/or cognitive decits (Silverman & DiGiuseppe, 2001). Cognitive refers to thinking or reasoning aptitude. Cognitive decits occur because of a failure to develop cognitive processes, such as problem-solving skills, to mediate adaptive behaviours. Silverman and DiGiuseppe (2001) stated that cognitive distortions are conceptualised through faulty schema or illogical reasoning tendencies that result in negative automatic thinking patterns. Theories based on
*Email: t.i.banks@csuohio.edu
ISSN 0266-7363 print/ISSN 1469-5839 online 2011 Association of Educational Psychologists http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02667363.2011.624303 http://www.tandfonline.com

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cognitive distortions premises contend that emotional and behavioural problems result from the presence of dysfunctional, irrational, and inappropriate thinking patterns. These theories consider the internalisation of self-statements that are central in developing self-control. Maladaptive self-statements are seen to contribute to emotional behaviour problems. The underlying premise of CBIs is that thinking precedes feelings and feelings precede behaviour. Therefore, if cognitions change, then feelings and behaviours will change. Goals are clearly specied; decisions are made on how to best meet specied goals and how to measure progress toward goals to provide feedback. CBIs for children and youth include a variety of techniques in which children are taught to use cognitive strategies to guide their behaviour and, thus, improve their adjustment (Bernard, 1990; DiGiuseppe, 1990). CBIs encompass a variety of instructional strategies and have been utilised across diverse populations; therefore, it may be more difcult to ascertain their effectiveness, as there is no prescribed method of CBI. The efcacy of CBI treatment programmes is directly related to the specic characteristics, traits, and attributes associated with each group (Morris, 1993). Many programmes utilise combinations of instructional strategies that contribute to the lack of clarity regarding specic treatment effects. CBI researchers have discussed the associated difculties in determining the efcacy of CBIs, due to variations in training approaches. Components of CBI training include, but are not limited to; self-instruction, selfcontrol, role-play, modelling, coaching, problem-solving, and response-cost procedures (Ager & Cole, 1991; Etscheidt, 1991; Kazdin, 1991; Kendall, Reber, McLeer, Epps, & Ronan, 1990). In preparing children to deal with life in an increasingly complex society, it is important that schools devote attention to well-organised and theoretically sound programmes employing a preventive approach to mental health. Vernon (1989) stated that the goal of effective programming is to create learning experiences through which children can gain knowledge about themselves and their feelings and can learn how to apply this knowledge in solving problems and coping with situations throughout life (p. 9). Preventive mental health curricula should focus upon developing in children an awareness of self, of feelings, of self in relation to others, and of decision-making and problem-solving skills (Vernon, 1989; Zionts, 1996). This paper supports the contention that a mental health curriculum should be delivered in classroom settings to address and remediate the socio-emotional needs of students with and without disabilities and to support the need of creating safe learning environments for all students. One such CBI, REBT, has been used with children and adolescents in schools and found to be an effective intervention with many commonly occurring difculties (Ellis & Wilde, 2002). The following section will review research that examines the effectiveness of REBT as a mental health curriculum in various educational contexts. REBT as a mental health classroom curriculum REBT, as indicated in its name, incorporates changes to thought processes and behaviours. It is a cognitiveemotivebehavioural system of therapy, and is based on the assumption that emotional problems result from illogical and irrational patterns of thinking about an event rather than from the event itself (Ellis & Harper, 1975). It is a theory and strategy that can be used to help individuals combat extremely negative feelings and behaviours. REBT has been implemented successfully

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with adults and children to address problems such as anxiety, depression, low frustration tolerance, perfectionism, obsessive compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders (Ellis, 2003), self-esteem, test-anxiety, locus of control (Omizo, 1986), emotional disturbance (Banks, 2006), learning disabilities, and academic performance (Ellis & Wilde, 2002; Hajzler & Bernard, 1991). The purpose of REBT is to help people learn to deal with serious emotional disturbances. It is based upon the premise that emotions and behavioural reactions are a result of how an individual perceives a current situation or event (Knaus, 2001). REBT attempts to reduce extreme levels of anger, anxiety, and depression that may interfere with a students ability to achieve goals and/or work out how to overcome the specic problem (Bernard, 1990). In essence, the objective of REBT is to teach individuals to base thinking on factual events and act on the basis of an objective outlook (that is, what would a camera see if it were aimed at the situation?), rather than on self-defeating feelings about or perceptions of events. The tenets of REBT with children and adolescents are similar to those developed for adults. Goal-defeating behaviours and emotional consequences result from and are mediated by an individuals faulty beliefs about activating events (also referred to as triggering events or antecedents) (Gonzalez et al., 2004, p. 223). REBT maintains that it is an individuals beliefs and perceptions of the events that cause consequences that the individual may be satised or disturbed by. Not only will children have cognitions that result in emotions, but children will also automatically have evaluative cognitions about their emotions (DiGiuseppe, 1990). As in adults, children may present irrational beliefs that can lead to emotional disturbance. Irrational beliefs are a type of reasoning that may predispose children to arrive at illogical conclusions when assessing typical problem situations (Lamarine, 1990). Ellis (1974) identied several of these illogical ideas that are extant in society and Waters (1982) adapted the 12 irrational beliefs as related to adults and applied them to children, developing 10 irrational beliefs of children: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) It is necessary to be liked by everyone you meet. Worthwhile people do not make mistakes. Life should be fair and justice must be equitably administered. Life should always be as one wants it to be. Others are to blame for our unhappiness. The world is full of dangers that necessitate great personal concern. Procrastination makes life easier. Children should be dependent upon adults. Every problem has one correct solution that must be found. People should disguise their feelings.

REBT is a mental health and an educational intervention. It attempts to teach students how to help themselves by providing a structured method of processing extreme emotions. REBT is not only designed to help students solve current problems, but also to reduce extreme levels of anger, anxiety, and depression which make it harder to work out how to overcome a specic problem (DiGiuseppe, 1990). According to the tenets of REBT, external events do not cause emotional disturbance. Rather, it is an individuals perception and evaluations of the events that create the disturbance (Wilde, 1999). The individuals perception then results in

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emotional responses that will affect goal attainment positively or negatively. Applied to students, the assertion is that extreme emotions disrupt the thinking process and impair their ability to achieve goals. Previous studies have demonstrated REBT to be effective in helping students work on their emotional and behavioural problems through use of teacherstudent or teacher-structured groups or classroom lessons (Banks & Zionts, 2009; DiGiuseppe, 1990; Morris, 1993). Research studies have demonstrated the efcacy of REBT with school-aged children in treating a number of psychological and behavioural problems including: conduct disorders (DiGiuseppe, 1990), low frustration tolerance (Knaus & McKeever, 1977), obesity (Foreyt, 1987), and increasing selfesteem and self-concept (Omizo, 1986). REBT has long received professional acceptance from teachers as well as school psychologists, as evidenced in the section on REBT for school psychologists in The Handbook of School Psychology (Reynolds & Gutkin, 1982). Educational REBT programmes have been implemented in various educational settings, ranging from traditional classroom environments (LaConte, Shaw, & Dunn, 1993; Knaus, 2001; Rosenbaum, McMurray, & Campbell, 1991; Sapp, 1994; Sapp, Farrell, & Durand, 1995; Wilde, 1996, 1999) to non-traditional educational settings with special populations, such as after school programmes, Upward Bound programmes, school programmes housed in a psychiatric hospital, and day treatment settings (Banks, 2006; Morris, 1993; Patton, 1995; Rudish & Millice, 1997; Shannon & Allen, 1998). A number of studies have supported Elliss theory that cognitions can modify behaviour and are related to emotional disturbance (Flanagan, Povall, Dellino, & Bryne, 1998; Knaus, 2001; Morris, 1993; Rosenbaum et al., 1991; Shannon & Allen, 1998; Wilde, 1996). From a REBT perspective, an effective mental health programme should increase rationality and thereby reduce emotional disturbance. Educational REBT programmes have been taught to groups of children as young as eight who learned to accept responsibility for their emotions and to use cognitive, behavioural, and affective techniques in order to reduce selfdefeating attitudes, feelings, and behaviours. Despite the associated difculties in measuring the impact of REBT, the literature is replete with suggestions on how to implement it in various classroom settings. When successful implementation in classroom environments had been supported, the researchers utilised a systematic integration of REBT principles and included activating tasks that promoted student engagement. Many have described various ways to implement REBT educational programmes in classroom settings with school aged children and adolescents (Banks, 2006; Banks & Zionts, 2008, 2009; Barnes, 2000; Knaus, 2001; Lamarine, 1990; Morris, 1993; Patton, 1995; Rudish & Millice, 1997; Sapp & Farrell, 1994; Vernon, 1996; Wilde, 1996; Zionts & Zionts, 1997). REBT: practical classroom strategies The literature described in this section will provide practical suggestions for implementation. Affective programming is a curriculum that recognises the inter-relationship between thinking, feelings, and behaviour, and includes an educational component that provides a strategy to manage extreme emotions. Moreover, the educational feature can be integrated in classrooms as a mental health curriculum that teaches emotional regulation. For example, Zionts and Zionts (1997) contended that

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affective programming needs to be integrated as part of the classroom curriculum. The authors suggested that teachers should teach the basic principles of REBT, including distinguishing fact from opinion, identifying and understanding feelings, and recognising and identifying irrational thinking patterns. Ellis (1974) developed a simple ABC model to address emotional concerns. A was dened as an activating event, and B was dened as a students belief system about A. C was dened as emotional and behavioural consequences. It was indicated that B largely causes C. Disputing intervention, D, is employed to challenge beliefs. Zionts and Zionts (1997) recommended the following sequence for teachers who would like to integrate the affective programme: REBT principles ? problem solving ? ABC model. Morris (1993) investigated the effects of a 12-week treatment programme (of which the intervention period lasted 10 weeks), based on REBT, with adolescents identied as having conduct disorder (CD) and attention-decit hyperactivity disordered (ADHD). The treatment programme was implemented during the school day twice a week for one hour. The rst two weeks of the intervention focused on assessment, relationship building, and personal issues relevant to the participants. The following eight weeks focused on dealing with self-defeating thoughts leading to emotional disturbance. Special attention was paid to anger and depression. Participants learned to identify concepts related to irrational beliefs, automatic thoughts, and emotional responses reective of thoughts and beliefs. The results of the intervention indicated that REBT used with a homogenous group of students identied as having CD signicantly reduced irrational thinking, depression, and symptoms of anger. Students who participated in the treatment programme developed new skills in deriving new alternatives for problematic events, approaches, and options to problem-solving situations. Sapp and Farrell (1994) described how CBIs can be employed to help students improve academic achievement. The authors described how teachers, both in special and mainstream education, who teach academically at-risk students can apply REBT educational strategies to help students improve academic self-concept, control anger, reduce anxiety and stress, and reduce test anxiety. Sapp (1996) outlined procedures for implementing a seven session REBT curriculum that was based on seven of the 10 irrational beliefs (Waters, 1982). In Sessions 1 and 2, students learned the meaning of academic self-concept and how irrational beliefs can be internalised and result in low academic self-concept. Students were introduced to and directly taught the ABCs of REBT in Sessions 3 and 4. Age appropriate examples were used to teach students how to apply the ABCs and D of REBT. In Sessions 5 and 6, rational emotive imagery was used to improve students academic self-concept and for cognitive restructuring. Wilde (1996) proposed that elementary students could learn rational thinking skills in a short-term developmental guidance programme. A total of 95 fourth-grade students (aged 910 years) participated in the study. Two 30-minute weekly lessons were conducted for a two-week period (10 days). Each of the students in the ve fourth grade classrooms received a total of four lessons for 120 minutes. The procedures were completed in a 10-day period. Lesson 1 was designed to establish the link between thoughts and feelings. Students were taught how to distinguish between rational and irrational beliefs in Lesson 2. Lesson 3 served as a review of skills learned from the previous lessons. Active student participation was encouraged in Lesson 4. Students were randomly divided into two groups and then played a board game, Lets Get Rational. Wilde (1994) found that these activities, utilised in

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either group or individual sessions, decreased the endorsement of irrational thoughts and depression in high school students. Wilde (1996) also established that fourth grade students could learn the content of REBT in a short amount of time. The effectiveness of this comprehensive, short-term intervention supplies educational professionals with a mental health curriculum that is efcient and cost-effective. Morris (1993) investigated the effects of a 12-week treatment programme, based on Rational-Emotive Therapy (RET) with 12 adolescents who were identied as having CD and 12 adolescents with ADHD. The results of Morriss study (1993) indicated that the students with CD signicantly reduced their irrational thinking, depression, and symptoms of anger. The rst two weeks of the intervention focused on assessment, relationship building, and personal issues relevant to the participants. Learning to deal with self-defeating thoughts that lead to emotional disturbance was the focal point for the following eight weeks. Special attention was paid to anger and depression. Participants also learned to identify concepts related to irrational beliefs, automatic thoughts, and emotional responses reective of thoughts and beliefs. The programme was presented using various strategies, including lectures, discussions, and watching videos. Morris (1993) suggested that intervention programmes based on lecture, discussion, and video might be appropriate not only for students with CD, but also for other dysfunctional behavioural patterns. Students identied as having emotional disorders (ED) may also require programmatic modication to suit the characteristics of the population. Banks (2006) conducted a study to determine if students with ED could understand the content of REBT. REBT was implemented as a pullout programme in a day treatment setting that covered a span of approximately eight months of the school year. The researcher introduced REBT to the students in three phases. REBT readiness activities were integrated in an effort to remediate skills associated with understanding the content of the cognitiveemotivebehavioural intervention, such as identifying and rating feelings. The goals of the sessions were to (1) build a rapport with the group; (2) set behavioural expectations regarding participation; (3) help students identify, measure, and connect feelings to thinking; and (4) dene and determine the difference between facts and opinions. The objective of the rst phase was cognitive preparation. Phase two was designed to teach students how to identify the ABCs of the REBT model. The third phase focused on using the ABC model by applying skills learned and participating in group discussions. Students were encouraged to logically think about and talk about problematic events. Students were also taught to question reasoning that did not lead to goal attainment in the classroom. Banks (2006) study led her to suggest that it is imperative that professionals consider the characteristics of students with ED in educational settings. Research has indicated that students with ED have difculty developing and maintaining interpersonal relationships with peers and adults (Cullinan, 2004; Kauffman, 2004). An integral component of the REBT model is disputing irrational beliefs. The literature suggests that disputation, as a traditional clinical approach, is a direct and at times confrontational approach that challenges current thinking patterns of the individual (Ellis, 1980, 1991). In practice, it is important to consider how to introduce strategies that may lead to further emotional distress. In Banks study (2006), the D, disputation, was coined as questioning ones beliefs. Considering the difculty that students identied with ED have with managing emotions and maintaining relationships, the researcher employed a stylistic variation

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in an effort to make disputation less confrontational and more about questioning. In practice, individual and group dynamics need to be carefully analysed before introducing strategies that could actually increase emotional distress. REBT should be implemented in a manner that teaches students new skills, reinforces skills learned, and fosters student ownership and generalisation of skills in various settings. The disputation component of REBT can be presented in a fashion that is less confrontational while reinforcing previous skills learned and encouraging generalisation of skills. Barnes (2000) found that students responded well to REBT principles when introduced in a traditional classroom environment. The author suggested that teachers become trained in the principles of REBT and integrate a REBT-based curriculum in their classroom environment. In an effort to promote the use of REBT principles in classrooms, Barnes (2000) developed a board game, Mrs Miggins Room. The researcher employed a case-based qualitative research methodology in collaboration with teachers to develop rules and procedures for the game, Mrs Miggins Room. Barnes observed teachers working with two students and developed a game that was based on REBT principles. The purpose of the game was to introduce REBT concepts in the classroom designed to foster group discussion using the ABC model. Mrs Miggins Room introduced questions in a fashion that encouraged appropriate play through discussion. Student participation was encouraged by rewarding participants with a preferred tangible item. Anecdotal evidence indicated that the students were able to identify which components of the game were helpful. Also, the students were able to discuss principles of REBT, identify challenging events, and dispute personal beliefs. The game provided an educational context and interpretation in which REBT could be introduced to students and used by teachers. Vernon (1996) argued that teachers are often required to help students deal with problems. However, teachers frequently are not equipped to assist students to deal with challenging events in ways that ensure sustainability over time and across settings. The author offered a systematic approach for school psychologists to work in partnership with teachers in order to improve student classroom behaviour. First, school psychologists should focus on helping teachers understand the benets of using preventative approaches in the classroom and introduce REBT as a preventative classroom strategy. Vernon (1996) outlined a specic format for conducting REBT lessons. Similar to that of a traditional teaching lesson plan, REBT lessons should be goal-oriented and contain objectives related to the core REBT concepts. Each lesson should include an activity designed to spark the interest of the students and involve the student in the concept being introduced. Students can participate in role plays, games, reading, writing or art activities, feelings games, group assignments, or dramatisations. Vernon suggested that 1525 minutes be reserved for activating the interest of students. After increasing student interests, students can engage in discussion and ask content related questions and talk about how the strategies can be used when presented with a challenging event or situation. The discussion component is essential. The author recommended that 1620 minutes be allocated for discussion, depending on the age of the child and the nature of the activity. REBT lessons should be presented in a logical order to encourage practice and reinforcement of skills (Vernon, 1996). Patton (1995) offered an educational sequence for the introduction of REBT in an educational environment for teaching students with ED. Patton stated that the challenge for many special education teachers who have students identied as hav-

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ing emotional and behavioural disorders (EBDs) is to determine what instructional model will meet the individual needs of these students, positively impact their thinking patterns, and improve student behaviour in the classroom. Patton (1995) described a seven session sequence for teaching rational behaviour skills to students identied with EBD in a middle school setting. As with previously described programmes, Patton presented the lessons in a sequential manner that promoted learning, practicing, and the reinforcement of skills. In addition, she included scripted goals of the sessions and learning activities. In Pattons sequence, students learned how the brain works to create emotions, to dene the ABCs of emotions, and how to describe emotions related to a challenging situation or event. Students also learned how to dene REBT terminology. They learned ve rules for rational and irrational thinking and how to evaluate emotions using the ve rules. Analysing personal responses and establishing rational and behaviour goals were considered critical components of the teaching sequence. In addition, active engagement of students was encouraged by having them write a description of an event, develop rational alternatives, create positive emotional goals, and use a prescribed format to practice positive self talk. Students applied and practised skill sets using situations that were relevant to them. Pattons sequence also encouraged the use of rational imagery and self-monitoring, where students visualised themselves using positive self talk when presented with challenging events. Next, they conducted a selfassessment with regard to their application of rational thinking and behaving. Patton (1995) recommended REBT as a teaching model. She also stated that academic skills should be embedded to assist students in their learning of rational behaviours, and further, that a systematic scope and sequence of instructional use of REBT activities is amenable to classroom intervention. Knaus (2001) shared his own personal experience integrating REBT into the mainstream curriculum. He conrmed that REBT can be integrated in classroom instruction to build positive mental health concepts and problem-solving skills. Further, if concepts are introduced in a systematic fashion, students will learn these concepts and gain experience using skills learned. Similar to that of the previously described REBT teaching sequences, Knaus suggested that the teaching sequence should begin with a stimulating task followed by REBT content. One of the primary skills that students need to acquire and practice before learning the cognitive model is understanding feelings. For example, Knaus incorporated a pantomime game to foster student understanding. The Expressions Guessing Game was designed to show different ways feelings can be expressed. Students were encouraged to think for themselves, to determine the facts of an event, and to assess how their thinking impacts feelings. Knaus integrated discussions and stimulating activities which allowed him to take advantage of teachable moments to maintain student motivation throughout the teaching sequence. Most importantly, he contended that REBT lessons do not have to be a separate curriculum and can be integrated into the general classroom curriculum. Teacher understanding of REBT concepts is critical to successful integration of mental health programming. Lamarine (1990) proposed that educational programmes based on the tenets of REBT should include three categories: self-acceptance, understanding feelings, and examining personal beliefs. Central to a REBT educational programme is the notion of exploring feelings and understanding the relationship between the affective, cognitive, and behavioural constructs. Lamarine also acknowledged that REBT can be introduced using a variety of methods, but the methods should be strategic and sys-

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tematic. Lessons should activate student interests and include students as active learners. This experiential component of REBT may enhance the likelihood that students will understand and apply REBT concepts into their daily experiences. Lamarine recommended specic teaching strategies that can be used in various educational settings, including discussions, role playing, simulation games, bibliotherapy, reading, and discussing rational stories. Hajzler and Bernard (1991) conducted a meta-analysis of affective education programmes to determine their efcacy with school-aged children. In their review, they found that programmes that included a more comprehensive component by providing opportunities for students to practice within and outside of treatment sessions enhanced the likelihood of observing positive differences. Practice can be presented as reviewing skills previously learned, homework, role-play and other methods that provide students with the opportunity to rehearse and master skills. Automaticity is supported through rehearsal, and the desired outcome of student ownership of the skills learned will increase the probability of students using cognitive skills in different settings (Harris & Pressley, 1991; Kendall & Choudhury, 2003; Kilstrom, 1987). Thus, the practice of REBT in educational settings should include a component that allows for reinforcement of skills via practice, rehearsal, and homework. The following discussion highlights practical challenges that were encountered when assessing content attainment of REBT in an alternative educational setting (Banks, 2006). Contextual complexity: challenges implementing REBT in classroom settings Classroom variables can impact delity of implementation in educational settings. Environmental factors, such as inuences of home, school, or peers, may potentially negate the impact of the affective education groups (LaConte et al., 1993). Banks (2006) noted various practical obstacles that were encountered while conducting CBI research in an educational setting. The increasing responsibilities of administrators and teachers to meet national and state mandates might have impacted the motivation of administrators and staff. Lochman, Coie, Underwood, and Terry (1993) noted that teachers might consider curricula not related to academics as nonessential and be unmotivated to spend instructional time on student behaviour. In Banks (2006) study, considering the duration of the study, teachers were less motivated to devote any additional time that may take away from their instructional time in the classroom. Instructional time was very important, as student absenteeism occurred frequently; thus, teachers felt compelled to help those students make-up for missed time and assignments. Participant attrition and classroom changes proved to be major challenges (Banks, 2006). Some students were involved with the juvenile system and would miss sessions due to placement in juvenile correctional facilities. Therefore, not only were the students absent; they were placed in a setting that did not encourage the practice and reinforcement of REBT skills learned, resulting in the treatment being withdrawn and, thus, decreased the probability that there would be any change or that the skills would be generalised. Also, a number of classroom changes took place during this study. Four of the seven students in the experimental group were either placed in different classrooms or placed in a juvenile correctional facility during the course of the study. Although the students were still willing to participate in the study, new variables were introduced (that is, new peer group,

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new teachers, new environment, and dealing with changes at school) that could not be controlled for by the researcher or the teachers. The unpredictability of contextual variables encountered in educational settings can impact delity of implementation. As indicated previously, it is important that teachers plan and structure REBT lessons and activities in advance so that modications can be made to accommodate student needs. Conclusion Students with ED present a spectrum of disorders and a multitude of problems in traditional classroom settings resulting in poor post-school outcomes. As a result, they require intervention strategies that are designed to meet their wide-ranging needs in order to be successful during, and post, school years. In addition, there is a need to support both special education and mainstream education teachers with interventions that can be integrated within an academic curriculum so that they can better help these students. REBT was designed to be a comprehensive strategy. REBTs cognitive restructuring technique contains several challenging emotive and behavioural aspects that can be argued to have the potential to meet the broad needs of students with ED (Ellis, 1974). REBT is directed at bringing about a reduction in the intensity of inappropriate, negative emotions of students. As in adults, children and youth may present irrational beliefs that can lead to emotional disturbance. Differentiating between rational and irrational beliefs is important because irrational beliefs, according to REBT, lead to disturbed emotions, such as depression, excessive anxiety, guilt, and anger, as well as negative behavioural reactions such as aggression, withdrawal, and impulsivity (Bernard, 1990). From a REBT perspective, an effective mental health programme should increase rational thinking and, thereby, reduce emotional disturbance. An integral component of the REBT model is disputing irrational beliefs that contribute to ED. This review of the educational applications of REBT suggests that, with developmentally appropriate modications, REBT can be effective in disputing irrational beliefs with children and adolescents in classrooms. Moreover, research strongly suggests that the concepts of REBT need to be taught in a systematic, multi-modal approach and integrated within classroom settings. Further research with students who have ED needs to be conducted so that this promising intervention can be competently applied in various educational settings.

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References
Ager, C.L., & Cole, C.L. (1991). A review of cognitive-behavioral interventions for children and adolescents with behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 16, 276287. Banks, T. (2006). Teaching rational emotive behavior therapy to adolescents in an alternative urban educational setting (Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Kent State University, OH). Banks, T., & Zionts, P. (2008). REBT used with children and adolescents who have emotional and behavioral disorders in classroom settings: A review of the literature. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 27, 5165. Banks, T., & Zionts, P. (2009). Teaching a cognitive behavioral strategy to manage emotions: REBT in an educational setting. Intervention School and Clinic, 44(5), 307313. Barnes, R. (2000). Mrs. Miggins in the classroom. British Journal of Special Education, 27, 2228.

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