Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

A-B-C-D-E Model of REBT

The fundamental premise of REBT emphasizes that humans typically do not get dismayed by unfortunate adversities; rather their response to those adversities is contingent on their perception of its reality. This reality is essentially an appraisal made on the basis of personal language, interpretive beliefs, meanings and philosophies about people themselves, those around them and the environment. In REBT, clients usually learn and apply this concept by learning the A-B-C-model of psychological disturbance and the need to change. It isn’t merely A (adversity or activating event) that generates the emotional C (consequence). There is a significant B (belief about the adversity) that underwrites the dysfunctional C (consequence). Unless we D: (decide to) dispute this, we cannot E: (enjoy) our existence.


Adversity is a common noun. Everything in the surrounding can qualify as a hardship. If we consider the A (adversity as the death of a loved one), the C (consequence) is likely to be intense grief, lack of interest in pleasurable activities, and a temporary disruption of usual emotions and actions. Although it seems that the C directly follows the A, what is worthy of attention is the underlying B (beliefs) that is mitigate the C. In this case, the B maybe:

  • How can I live without this person?
  • My life is not worth living anymore
  • I will awfully terribly miss this person
  • I really miss all our moments together

We tend to believe that If A occurs then C follows. However, in actuality A X B = C.


Beliefs are most important variables in the A-B-C equation. They are the underlying obvious philosophical assumptions about events, wishes, and preferences in the human mind. If a person’s evaluative B: belief about the A: activating negative event is rigid, absolutistic and dysfunctional; the C: emotional and behavioral consequence is likely to be self-defeating and destructive. When the B leads to an unwanted dysfunctional C, this B would qualify as an IRRATIONAL BELIEF. Alternatively, if a person’s evaluative B: belief is preferential, flexible and constructive, the C: emotional and behavioral consequence is likely to be self-helping and productive in which case this B warrants the grade of a RATIONAL BELIEF.


There isn’t much unknown about desirable consequences. If granted 3 wishes, each has their demands ready! Everyone truly longs for peace, contentment and satisfaction; but are indeed presented with sadness, restlessness and discontentment on account of these apparent adversities. Little do people realize the impact of their beliefs on the appraisal of actions thus they themselves generate unwanted consequences.


By understanding the role of their underlying, interpretive and evaluative irrational beliefs, people often can learn to identify them, see their futility then go on to the next step D: dispute, refute, challenge and question them, distinguish them from the rational beliefs, and subscribe to more constructive and self-helping behavior. Rationality comes with a small price, it takes courage and effort to be positive; however once conditioned, rationality becomes the answer to all problems and life’s adversities can never then get out of hand.


Disputing the irrational belief paves way for E: enjoying the constructive outcomes of rational and appropriate beliefs. There is one universal truth that each one ‘makes’ their happiness around their ‘own self’. Do not ever come in your own path of advancement. Children get irrational in their expectations and tantrum often. When adults do so, the outcomes are not very promising. Get rational and start living!

A-B-C-D-E Model

According to Ellis, the chain of psychological turmoil is linked by a series of sequential processes:

  • A- An activating adversity
  • B- Belief about the adversity
  • C- Consequence (emotional)
  • D- Disputing that belief
  • E- Enjoying the new effect

Irrational beliefs

These are the 12 irrational beliefs that are the root of all human suffering and psychopathology.

  • I must be respected by everyone
  • Some people are innately wicked
  • Things always need to be perfect
  • If something is bad we must worry
  • It is best to always avoid conflicts
  • We all need a pillar of strength
  • We need to be competent always
  • Bad experiences scar us forever
  • We must always be in full control
  • If we don’t act we can attain peace
  • We are all emotionally helpless

Rational beliefs

These are the 12 corresponding rational beliefs that are the key to happiness and contentment in life.

  • I must build my own respect
  • Behaviors are bad, people are not
  • We need to accept imperfection
  • We must take things in our stride
  • We can face conflicts responsibly
  • We must risk being independent
  • We must accept us for who we are
  • The past can improve our future
  • We can enjoy the gamble at times
  • We are happiest when engrossed
  • We control our negative emotions

DIB-Disputing Irrational Beliefs

The process of dispute involves self questioning and interrogation

  • Why do I always think like this?
  • What good comes of this belief?
  • What bad comes out of my belief?
  • What good will occur if I change?
  • What bad will happen if I don’t?
  • Do my beliefs make my life better?