ABC Worksheet (The ABCs of REBT)-therapy and counseling
Use this Worksheet to Learn the ABCs of counseling (The ABC model of rational thinking, REBT, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy)


ABC Worksheet (The ABCs of REBT)

A = Activating Event

  • What do you think happened?
  • What would a camera see? 

B = Beliefs about Activating Event

  • What did you tell yourself? 

C = Consequences

  • How did you act?
  • How did you feel?

While it may seem odd at the beginning, you want to start somewhat backwards.  Start with the (C).

After you complete (C), come back here and describe what was happening at the time you became upset/stressed/angry/anxious/depressed/guilty/etc.  Note where you were, who was there, what was going on, etc.


1) list the irrational Beliefs (iBs) that lead to (C) (list the iBs that led to your reaction/behavior)

2) list replacement rational Beliefs (rBs), which are those that are measurable, objective, rooted in reality

List here what you felt--your self defeating behaviors that you want to change, such as anger, anxiety, depression, guilt, self-loathing, feelings of worthlessness, awfulizing, low frustration tolerance, etc.  The Consequences are what you feel
about/from (A). It makes sense to start here because it's what you actually feel first.

List here how you dispute each iB, and replace with an rB.

Examples of disputing iBs and replacing with rBs.
1. I MUST do well or very well!            

DISPUTE: Why MUST I do very well?

REPLACE w/rB: I'd like to, but things don't always go the way we want. I'll do my best to do well but when I don't achieve what I think I have to I'll recognize that life goes on and and I can't expect to be perfect at everything I do.

2. I am a BAD OR WORTHLESS PERSON when I act weakly or stupidly.         

DISPUTE:  Where is it written that I am a BAD PERSON?

REPLACE w/rB: I am a PERSON WHO acted badly, not a BAD PERSON.  I BEHAVED stupidly but that does not equate to me being worthless.  My worth is not tied to my behavior. People behave stupidly sometimes, it's what we do.  I will strive to not act that way again but I will not blame myself or get down on myself because I behaved stupidly.

3. I MUST be approved of or accepted by people I find important.      

DISPUTE: There is no evidence that I HAVE to be approved of though I would LIKE to be. 

REPLACE w/rB: If I'm not approved of by those I desire it from, I will try to see if I can.  But if they still don't, then things will still work out okay.  It is not possible to be approved of or accepted by everyone you want. Sometimes it just doesn't work.  I'll accept it, though I don't like it.

4. People MUST treat me fairly and give me what I NEED.       

DISPUTE: What evidence do I have that people MUST treat me fairly? Who says I wrote the 'rules of the world?' 

REPLACE w/rB: And who says that what I SAY is what I NEED and what THEY SAY is what I need is magically supposed to be the same thing.  If I face the true facts, "fair" is a subjective term: what's fair to one is unfair to another.  Plus, I know I don't NEED anything but air, water, food, and ability to expel waste.  I can survive just fine if I don't always get what I "need."

5. People MUST live up to my expectations or it is TERRIBLE!  

DISPUTE: Is it?  What control do I have over what someone else does or doesn't? 

REPLACE w/rB: It's irrational to think I can expect them to be the way I want at all times.  When they aren't, it's NOT it really so bad that it's off the chart?  Instead, it's certainly unpleasant, it's not desirable, it's disappointing...but it is not awful, terrible, or horrible.

You may also wish to see also take a look at this ABC disputing worksheet/chart.

What does it take to be happy?More on the ABC's and REBT

A simple tutorial on the ABC's
The 12 Rational Beliefs (rBs) of REBT
The 12 Irrational Beliefs (iBs) of REBT
Understanding Irrational Thinking
Real life examples of how to make REBT work for you
Quick definition of CBT and REBT
Cognitive Behavioral help for panic attacks
Being happy is easier than you think

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