REBT's ABC Model

Weekly I/O#25

A rational-emotive explanation of personality is as easy as ABC, Activating events, Beliefs, Consequences.

Book: Systems of Psychotherapy

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a form of cognitive behavior therapy developed by Dr. Albert Ellis. In Albert Ellis' words, a rational-emotive explanation of personality is as easy as ABC.

A is the Activating event like failure to land a job, rejection by a lover. B is the Belief that people use to process the activating events. There are rational beliefs (rB) as believing the failure was unpleasant and rejection was unfortunate and irrational beliefs (iB) as "I will never be loved again" or "The rejection will prevent me from ever being successful". C is the emotional and behavioral Consequence of what has just occurred.

Most people assume that critical emotional consequences of personality development are a direct function of the activating events. In other words, A directly leads to C. However, as a cognitive theory, REBT points out that it is not activating events but the interpretation and perception of the events that are decisive. That is, it is B that leads directly to C.

Therefore, for REBT, our emotional disturbances are determined by the way we think, not by the environment. The "in here", rather than the "out there" makes our feelings. Again, we can see some Stoicism and Buddhism in REBT.

Thanks to 江寧 for introducing me to REBT and Sharon Tai for recommending and lending me the book!

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