ABC Model

Albert Ellis and REBT

Albert Ellis (September 27, 1913 – July 24, 2007) was the American psychologist who in 1955 is credited with starting the Rational Emotive Behavioural school of Therapy or REBT school of therapy, the forerunner of what became known as Cognitive Behavioural school of therapy  or CBT.

rebt_modelEllis's big idea was the notion that humans could think their way out of distress and that the therapist provideds a 'dispute' asking the client to think of altenative reasons why they had dffiiculties and to consider that  somtimes life is difficult and unfair.

This is known as a 'Stoic'  way of thinking and can find its roots to Epicitus a Greek philospher who lived between (AD 55-135).


Ellis used a technique known as ABCD

  • A = Activating Event.  For example ‘ I have had an accident in my car ‘
  • B= Belief Gained from the Event, ‘ I am a bad driver’
  • C = Consequence, Gained from the Belief,   ‘ I will never drive again’

If a client was to present with this issue, the therapist would gently (hopefully!) Dispute the faulty belief.

  • D= Dispute. 

Therapist "Ok you have had a car accident, but you also tell me you drive 40,000 miles a year ,and  have done for the last 10  years, and in that time you have had only had  2 accidents" .
Is there any other way of thinking that you could use to alter your belief that “ I will never drive again “ ‘
In this piece of work the therapist is helping the client to consider other thinking strategies and challenge a faulty belief.


 Once the client substitutes a more healthy belief such as ‘accidents happen, I have driven over 400,000 mikes in 10 years and only had two , that does not make me a bad driver ’, then the consequence may change to “ I will drive again, accidents happen and maybe I need to be a bit more careful’


One final point, this theory tells us : How we think  affects how we feel, How we feel affects how we behave,  How we behave affects how we live our lives
Change the thought =Change the Consequence.

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