Changing your Mindset is as Easy as Learning Your ABC’s

Changing your Mindset is as Easy as Learning Your ABC’s

By Gina Cipriano

A major goal of therapy is to assist a person in learning how to become their own therapist (once they are healthy enough). Many times, this may entail helping a person learn the association between their thoughts and behaviors. Ultimately, our perceptions of an event are what influences us to behave in a way that is conducive, or not, to our mental health. Dr. Albert Ellis stated, “Rational beliefs bring us closer to getting good results in the real world.” Ellis developed the ABCDE model as a way to provide others with an easy acronym to use when disputing irrational beliefs to rational ones.

  • A stands for Activating Event or Adversity. An adversity is a situation that happens to us that is out of our control; While we cannot control what happens to us, we can control our beliefs in relation to these situations.
  • B stands for our Beliefs. This entails thinking about what we believe about the adversity that happened.
  • C stands for Consequence. Consequences occur as a result of our beliefs; they can either be positive or negative.
  • D stands for Dispute. This entails disputing our beliefs to ultimately change the consequence.
  • E stands for Effect. Effect entails asking ourselves, “What was the result of disputing the negative belief?”


ABCDE’s In Action 

Imagine the following scenario: A young girl got a failing grade on her exam. Immediately, she thinks to herself, “This is outrageous, and I should have passed. My professor is a terrible professor. I am never going to pass this class.”

Before Disputation:

  • Adversity: The adversity is her failing grade.
  • Belief: Her belief is that she will never pass the class.
  • Consequence: As a consequence, the student may lose her motivation to study and keep getting low grades for her subsequent tests.

However, this may be the perfect scenario to dispute these beliefs.

  • Disputation: She can dispute her belief to, “I still have time to pass the class. I am going to ask my teacher what I can improve and change how I study for this class.”
  • Effect: The effect of this may be that the student recognizes that she still has a chance to pass and works to improve her grades.

My favorite part about therapy is seeing people become empowered to take control of their lives. When we can relook at situations through an objective lens, it can help us prevent negatively contributing to an, already difficult, adversity we went through. Further, this is an easy model to apply between therapy sessions when you are stuck in a cyclical cycle of thinking in a way that is hurtful to you.


Shah, N. (2021, December 27). ABCDE model of REBT by Dr. Albert Ellis. ICHARS. https://www.instituteofclinicalhypnosis.com/psychotherapy-coaching/abcde-model-rebt/?msclkid=f6ddbce9c70011ec9ed9bab20a4548a9

We offer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety, depression, ADHD, and other mental health concerns in Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens. This form of counseling works with adults, teens, and adolescents.

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