ABC Model (A complete guide)

This blog aims to provide you details of the ABC model. In this blog, you will be given information about the CBT based ABC model.

The blog explains how this model helps identify the irrational beleifs of the individuals and aid in replacing those beliefs with rational ones.

There is a lot more to discover in this blog.

So let’s not wait and move on to the first heading of this blog. 

 What is the ABC Model?

The ABC model was introduced by Albert Ellis. This model is a very important part of the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy as it was the basis of the formulation of this therapy.

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) is known to be formed on the basis of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

The ABC model, based on the principles of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, is a very effective and popular intervention still used by practitioners.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps in the treatment of various psychological illnesses including stress and anxiety.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy focuses on the way an individual think (cognition), the way an individual feel (emotion), and the way he behaves in response to his thoughts and feelings (behavior).

In other words, the thinking pattern of the individual influences his feelings and behavior.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy helps individuals identify their negative cognitions that are affecting their emotions and actions.

This therapy help individuals deal with their distorted thinking pattern to modify their behaviors for managing unpleasant and distressing feelings.

This therapy is very helpful in dealing with psychological distress.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy has given birth to various other therapies including Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) introduced by Albert Ellis in the 1950s and Cognitive Therapy developed by Aron T. Beck in the 1960s. 

CBT can also be used to treat addictions such as adult-content addiction or substance-abuses.

A Brief History on CBT & REBT

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy gave rise to Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy, which was developed because clients having depression were focused more on past events rather than the present events.

On the other hand, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, developed by Albert Ellis was one of the main roots of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

In simple words, REBT was both the antecedent and the type of CBT.

One distinction between REBT, CBT, and other therapies is that the former two focus mainly on identifying and treating the beleifs if individuals.

Albert Ellis’ ABC model

The ABC Model was introduced by Albert Ellis in 1957. This model aimed at helping people deal with their negatvie thinking styles.

In view of Albert Ellis, the ABC Model is made by keeping in view the experiences or perceptions of people about certain situations.

The thinking pattern of the individuals influence their belief system and affect their happiness.

The thoughts experienced by people can be negative, which results in the formulation of negative beliefs as a result of which the individuals experience negative emotions that give rise to undesirable, unpleasant behaviors.

The ABC Model of Albert Ellis helps in rectifying these irrational thoughts.

There are three components of the ABC Model. These are explained in detail as follows:

A – Activating Event

The first component of the ABC model is the activating event or the trigger. Activating event is the situation that leads to an irrational thought or a certain emotional response in the individual.

The individual can analyze the activating event in detail to prevent dysfunctional thinking.

The individual may ask himself what the situation was exactly, what were the characters involved in the situation, what was the role of those characters in the situation, what was the role of the individual in that situation and which emotions were involved in this situation.

B – Beliefs

The second component of the ABC model is beliefs. Beliefs are the thoughts experienced by the individual in response to the activating event.

These thoughts could either be positive or negative. The individual can closely analyze his beliefs to identify whether his thoughts were negative and irrational or they were positive.

This can be done by asking questions like what were the thoughts that came into the individual’s mind when the activating event occurred and how many of those thoughts supports his belief.

C – Consequence

The third component of the ABC model is a consequence. The consequence is the resulting behavior of the individual in response to his beliefs.

The second component, which is the belief, fills the gap between the activating event and the consequence, explaining how the belief of an individual can affect his behavior in response to the activating event.

According to the ABC model, the consequences help an individual identify his emotions and resulting actions in response to the belief that arose from the activating event.

The individual can analyze the consequences of the situation by recalling the kind of emotions experienced by him as a result of his beleifs, the negative, undesirable behavior that emerged as a result of his beliefs and activating event, and how his behavior affected the people around him.

According to Albert Ellis, the activating event does not produce a negative emotion and behavioral consequence but the way the individual perceives the activating event.

When the individual interprets the situation rationally and negatively, he develops irrational beliefs in response to that situation which influences his actions. 

What is Ellis’ ABC model?

The ABC model, introduced by Albert Ellis in 1957, is a CBT based approach that helps identify and treat irrational beliefs.

The first three steps of the ABC model help individuals analyze the situation closely to determine how their thoughts and beliefs have influenced their behaviors.

What is the ABC model of CBT?

The ABC model is based on cognitive-behavioral therapy.

This model helps explain why the individual thinks the way he thinks, feels the way he feels and behaves the way he behaves.

ABC model help individuals identify their irrational thoughts and beliefs and work on them to modify their behaviors.

This model helps individuals to take control of their thoughts, feelings, beleifs, and actions.

What is the Ellis’ ABCDE technique used for?

The ABCDE technique introduced by Albert Ellis is a very effective strategy used for helping individuals recognize and reshape their irrational, faulty beliefs.

The model helps individuals acknowledge how their belief system influences their emotions and behaviors.

The acronym ABCDE stands for the activating event, belief, consequence, disputed belief, and new effect. 

How does the ABC model work?

The ABC model help individuals identify their irrational beliefs resulting from the activating event and transforming those beliefs into rational ones to produce a desirable outcome and pleasant emotions.

Thus the ABC model is an effective strategy of dealing with irrational beliefs.

What is the ABC model of attitudes?

There are three main components of an individual’s attitude.

The ABC model of attitudes explains the role of these three components in an attitude. these three components include A: affective, B: behavioral, and C: cognitive.

The affective component of the ABC model of attitudes refers to the emotional reaction of an individual towards an attitude body.

The behavioral component refers to the reaction of the individual towards the attitude body. The cognitive component refers to the belief of an individual towards the attitude body.


Rational emotive behavior therapy was introduced by Albert Ellis in 1955.

It is thought to be the precursor as well as a type of cognitive behavior therapy.

Although there are many differences between CBT and REBT, they both are known for treating irrational beliefs.

This blog gave you a detailed explanation of the ABC model.

The blog mentioned the history of the ABC model, the CBT approach on which this model is based, and the way this model is used for identifying and dealing with irrational, faulty beliefs.

If you have any queries or questions regarding this blog, let us know through your comments.

We will be glad to assist you. Your views regarding the blog are also welcome.


Albert Ellis’ ABC Model in the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Spotlight by Joaquín Selva, (2020)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy By Saul McLeod (2019)

Zeeman, A. (2019 )ABC model (Albert Ellis)

Google books

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