Everything about the Relational Frame Theory

by | Jun 26, 2023

In this coming series of blogs, I would like to take you on a journey into a theory that I find particularly fascinating: Relational Frame Theory, or RFT for short. The behavioural processes used in Process Based Interactive Therapy derive from RFT. It is an extensive theory that explores how language works and the influence it has on our behaviour. The theory is built upon a beautiful scientific philosophy called Functional Contextualism, which emphasizes interaction—interaction with oneself and with the environment.

RFT can seem like a foreign language

The only downside of RFT, especially for newcomers, is that it can sometimes seem like a foreign language due to the range of new concepts and associated terminology. That’s why I’m excited to explain RFT in an easily understandable manner in the upcoming blogs and
covering fascinating facets of the theory. Consider the blogs as a sort of RFT Glossary. If you are new to RFT, you’ll find here everything you need to know about this remarkable theory. Moreover, if you’re curious about its practical application, I encourage you to attend one of our playful and practical workshops or enrol in the 3-year programme. And if, after attending a workshop or completing the 3-year programme, you find yourself wondering, “How does that work again?” you can always return here to refresh your knowledge.

What to expect?

The blog will start with the basics: the philosophy of science and will cover the concept of Scientific truth. I will show you that science can be approached from different perspectives or philosophies. Think of it as a lens through which we can view the world. Therefore, the perspective we adopt impacts the conclusions drawn by science. The lens we utilize also influences how we view therapy and what clients anticipate. Furthermore, it affects the expectations of both institutions and people surrounding the client such as insurance companies, occupational physicians, and loved ones. And last, but not least, it shapes the expectations therapists have of themselves. The renowned philosopher, Stephen C Pepper explained several of these perspectives in his seminal 1942 book, ‘World Hypotheses’. We
will examine them in more detail and explore their impact.

Next, we will delve into Functional Contextualism (FC) based on a broader movement known as contextualism, as explained by Pepper. FC is a specific form of contextualism, focussed on behaviour, particularly in accurately and precisely influencing and predicting behaviour. I will explain exactly what this means in future blogs.

After discussing the philosophies, we will then examine the theory in more depth. I will guide you through how RFT works and its basis, behaviourism, which emphasizes stimulus-response relationships. RFT provides insight into the influence of language usage on someone’s behaviour as we communicate using language, and we think about ourselves and others using language. Thus, language is intertwined in everything we do. So, RFT reveals how language operates and the impact it has on our behaviour. You will learn more about the specifics in the upcoming blogs.

As you can tell, I am excited to share my enthusiasm for this remarkable theory with you. Stay tuned for more!

Pepper, S. C. (1942). World hypotheses: A study in evidence (Vol. 31). Univ of California Press.