Systematic rational restructuring is a cognitive behavioral procedure developed by psychologist Marvin Goldfried in the mid-1970's. This procedure is a variation on Ellis's rational-emotive therapy; however, it is more clearly structured than Ellis's method. In systematic rational restructuring, Goldfried suggests that early social learning experiences teach individuals to label situations in different ways. Further, Goldfried suggests that emotional reactions may be understood as responses to the way individuals label situations, as opposed to responses to the situations themselves. The goal of systematic rational restructuring is to train patients to perceive situational cues more accurately.
The process of systematic rational restructuring is similar to systematic de-sensitization, in which a subject is to imagine fearful scenes in a graduated order from the least fear-provoking to the most fear-provoking scenes. In systematic rational restructuring, the patient is asked to imagine a hierarchy of anxiety-eliciting situations. At each step, the patient is instructed to identify irrational thoughts associated with the specific situation, to dispute them, and to reevaluate the situation more rationally. In addition, patients are instructed to practice rational restructuring in specific real-life situations.
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