Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy Volume 11, Number 2, Summer 1993
RET IN THE WORKPLACE Dominic DiMattia Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy
This is an exciting special issue of the Journal, the first to focus exclusively on issues of RET and the Workplace. Since Albert Ellis developed rational-emotive therapy over 35 years ago, many professionals have applied RET to problems in the workplace and thousands of individuals have been helped by their therapists in dealing with the problems relating to work. RET will continue to help humans deal with problems at work as part of their ongoing therapy practices. Rational-Emotive therapy--or, as we have begun to label it, Rational-Effectiveness T r a i n i n g - - i s making a more direct contribution to the workplace by introducing the concepts of RET into management training and into the development of "corporate cultures," among other areas. In this special issue you will read about several different applications of RET in the workplace and offer many suggestions on how we may all begin to use RET in a preventive as well as a remedial manner. RET has been effectively applied to four general areas within the workplace: employee assistance programs, training and development, managerial leadership development, and the training of human resource professionals. Many of the contributors will discuss in this issue several of these applications. However, I would like to share some of my experiences and ideas as they relate to these areas. First, the application of RET to employee assistance programs seems to be a natural extension. EAPs are under growing pressure to use cost-effective, short-term therapy in their role to help employees quickly resolve problems that interfere with their job performance. Unfortunately, many of them have been trained in traditional personcentered or psychoanalytic approaches which often makes it difficult to make the transition to directive, short-term therapy. RET has been Address correspondence to Dominic DiMattia, Ed.D., Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy, 45 East 65th St., New York, NY 10021. 61
9 1993 Human Sciences Press, Inc,
Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-BehaviorTherapy
widely accepted by many EAPs when it is properly presented. The Institute has trained hundreds of EAPs in the use of RET as an assessment and referral tool. When teaching RET in these settings it is better not to challenge openly their current orientations but to assist them in seeing how RET can be integrated into their current approach. Often as they become familiar with theory and philosophy of RET they give up their misconceptions and desire more extensive training. With many EAPs developing into managed care programs it is becoming more essential for EAPs to become trained short-term therapeutic techniques. A second area RET can make a contribution to the workplace is in training and development, an enormous industry, which spends over $200 billion a year to increase productivity within the organization and to retrain workers for a changing market. Here again RET's preventive, psychoeducational emphasis makes it an easy transfer to this area. Many large consulting companies have already incorporated RET methods into their programs without acknowledging Albert Ellis or RET. They simply provide a surface explanation of RET. There are many programs that have been conducted by approved RET trainers around the world. They provide an excellent model for us to follow. Their training programs include: performance appraisals, communication skills, sales effectiveness, conflict management, time management, stress management, and managing change. Almost any existing program which focuses on behavioral outcomes can be improved with the inclusion of RET. By including a module on managing your emotions in these programs you increase the probability the participants will learn the material and will leave with techniques to increase their frustration tolerance when they face obstacles at the work site, i.e. transfer of learning is increased. The third area in which RET can be effective is in general management or leadership development. Effective managers are individuals who have flexible attitudes and do not let their bias interfere with effective decision making. They respond to change in an adaptive manner rather than sabotage new programs and ideas. Leadership or management development programs can be significantly improved when RET is introduced. By teaching the participants to identify their rigid beliefs and subsequently to dispute and change these beliefs, organizations will develop flexible managers capable of making creative decisions. If programs include the identification of all belief about effective management and a systematic approach of reexamining these
beliefs and changing the nonproductive beliefs decision making will not be limited. The final area I would like to discuss is the training of human resource professionals. H u m a n resource professionals are the gate keepers of training programs in corporations and often require special skills. This is an excellent group to convince to use RET as the focus of their programs. More extensive training is required of these professionals because they often design and conduct programs within their organizations. The most thorough program currently available for human resource professionals is in The Netherlands. In conjunction with a local company the Institute conducts a certification program similar to our Associate Fellowship Program for mental health professionals. Participants are given a thorough exposure to the theory and philosophy of RET. In addition, they are instructed in how to integrate RET into their current training programs. This is primarily a train the trainers model. This group is a particularly important group if we are to make any serious inroads into the workplace. I hope you find this issue as exciting as I do. The applications discussed in this issue provide practitioners with new directions for their skills. I hope it is only the beginning of many issues and articles relating RET to problems within the workplace. Our next step will be to conduct research to validate these many new applications.