The Sport of Avoiding Sports and Exercise: A Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Perspective

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Albert Ellis Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy

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The purpose of this article is to apply the rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) perspective to motivation to begin and continue regular exercise or sport involvement. A basic premise is that exercise and sports avoidance are usually motivated by low frustration tolerance and/or irrational fears of failing. The treatment of exercise and sports avoidance by REBT is multimodal, integrative, and involves the use of cognitive, emotive, and behavioral methods. Cognitive methods include disputing irrational beliefs, learning rational coping self-statements, referenting, and reframing. Emotive methods include the use of strong dramatic statements, rational emotive imagery, shame-attacking exercises, and role-playing. Various behavioral methods such as anxiety reducing assignments, operant conditioning, paradoxical homework, and stimulus control are explained. REBT focuses on helping exercise and sport avoiders find their inhibitory demands and change the demands into healthy preferences while promoting unconditional self-acceptance.

Albert Ellis is with the Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy, 45 East 65th St., New York, NY 10021.

Editor’s note: This article represents Dr. Ellis’s invited address to Division 47, Exercise and Sport Psychology, at the 1993 APA convention in Toronto, Canada. Because this article was not refereed, Jim Taylor, of the TSP editorial board, was invited to contribute a response. Dr. Taylor’s response follows this article.—Robin S. Vealey, Editor

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