top of page

You Are What You Believe. The REBT Model.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) developed by psychologist Albert Ellis in the 1950s. REBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are interconnected, and that by changing our thoughts, we can change how we feel and act. REBT is a goal-oriented and practical approach that focuses on helping individuals identify and change irrational beliefs that are causing emotional distress and interfering with their ability to live a fulfilling life.

The ABCDE Model

The core of REBT is the ABCDE model, which stands for Activating event, Belief, Consequence, Dispute, and Effect. This model suggests that our emotional reactions are not caused by external events, but rather by the beliefs we hold about those events. The ABCDE model is a helpful tool that therapists can use to help their clients understand the connections between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Activating Event: The A in the ABCDE model refers to the activating event, which is the situation or event that triggers an emotional response. This could be something as small as a coworker criticizing your work or as significant as losing a loved one.

Belief: The B in the ABCDE model refers to the belief that an individual holds about the activating event. These beliefs are often irrational and can be categorized into three types:

  • Demands: Beliefs that suggest that we must have something or that others must behave in a certain way.

  • Awfulizing: Beliefs that suggest that a situation is terrible or unbearable.

  • Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT): Beliefs that suggest that we can't tolerate or cope with a situation.

Consequence: The C in the ABCDE model refers to the emotional and behavioral consequences of holding irrational beliefs. These consequences can range from mild to severe and can include anxiety, depression, anger, and avoidance.

Dispute: The D in the ABCDE model refers to the process of disputing or challenging irrational beliefs. This involves identifying evidence that supports and contradicts the belief, evaluating the evidence, and developing a more rational perspective.

Effect: The E in the ABCDE model refers to the emotional and behavioral effects of disputing irrational beliefs. This can include reduced emotional distress, improved self-esteem, and more effective coping strategies.

The Three Basic Musts

One of the central tenets of REBT is the idea that we hold ourselves to unrealistic and rigid standards. These standards are often based on the three basic musts:

  • I must do well and be approved by others.

  • You must treat me well and fairly.

  • Life must be easy and hassle-free.

These beliefs are irrational and often lead to emotional distress and maladaptive behavior. REBT therapists work with clients to identify and challenge these beliefs, replacing them with more realistic and flexible perspectives.

The ABCDE Model in Practice

Here is an example of how the ABCDE model might be used in practice:

  1. Activating Event: A client has just been passed over for a promotion at work.

  2. Belief: "I must have this promotion, or I am a failure."

  3. Consequence: The client feels anxious, depressed, and unmotivated at work.

  4. Dispute: The therapist helps the client identify evidence that supports and contradicts the belief. The client realizes that while the promotion would have been nice, it is not a reflection of their worth as a person.

  5. Effect: The client feels less anxious and depressed, and is able to approach work with a more positive and motivated attitude.


REBT is an evidence-based and effective form of therapy that has helped countless individuals improve their emotional well-being and lead more fulfilling lives. By identifying and challenging irrational beliefs, clients can learn to live more in line with their values and goals,

34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page