A = Activating Event
B = Beliefs
C = Consequences (feel, do)
D = Disputing
E = Effective Coping Statements
Disputing means to question and challenge someone's automatic irrational beliefs. It's basically Tool #5 - Correcting Irrational
Thinking. Click here to return to the web page on correcting irrational thinking.
|E = Effective Coping Statements
Once you've disputed irrational beliefs, you would attempt to come up with what Dr. Ellis called Effective Coping Statements
that would help you generate a more functional amount of emotion. For example:
No one has to do anything It's not that big a deal
People can say and do whatever they want to It's over and done with
I'd like that but I don't need it I've survived it before and I will again
I can only do so much No one's perfect
The only person I control is me We all make mistakes
It's not the end of the world We're all just fallible human beings
The e-books "The Mental and Emotional Tool Kit" and "The Mental and Emotional Tool Kit for Teachers and Parents" both
have an extensive list of simple but effective coping statements.
|F = Functional Amount of Emotion
I've added steps F, G and H to Dr. Ellis' original steps. F stands for Functional Amount of Emotion. It's what you end up with
if you do a good job working through Dr. Ellis' five steps.
|G = Generating Behavioral Options
Step G stands for Generating Behavioral Options. In other words problem solving. Deciding what if anything you could say
and/or do to make the situation you find yourself in better. It always helps to be able to get into the best possible emotional
place in order to do this effectively.
Dr. Paul Hauck has said that whenever you find yourself in a situation you don't like, you have four basic choices. They are:
1) Problem Solve and Assert Yourself
2) Tolerate WITH Disturbance
3) Tolerate WITHOUT Disturbance
Options #1 and #4 would fall under step G. The best way to assert yourself is with I Messages (See Tool #7). Options #2
and #3 can be accomplished by doings steps A through E.
|H = Healthier, Happier, Hopeful
This is what you'd hopefully end up being if you do all the other steps well
|Albert Ellis' Step-by-Step Process
In math, students are told that if they approach new
problems in the same step-by-step fashion every time, they'll
more often than not get the right answer to their problem.
That's how it is with everyday problems as well.
People have cognitive, emotional and behavioral RUTS in
their brain. This makes it automatic to think, feel, say and do
things. It's why people often recreate their past, and their
history can become their destiny. That could be good or bad,
depending on where those thoughts, feelings and actions
take people. Unfortunately, it often causes people to
generate a dysfunctional amount of emotion and to make
the same unhealthy, self-defeating behavioral and lifestyle
choices they've made in the past. That's why Dr. Ellis
developed a step-by-step approach to help people get into
better cognitive and emotional places to make better
behavioral and lifestyle choices. The steps are:
Events can be real or imagined. Imagined events are often a big component of what people react to, especially when they
generate anxiety. The two simple questions are:
1) What happened?
2) What, if anything, are you imagining will happen next because of that?
People like to tell their story, giving many details. However, REBT therapists try to keep this step brief. The important thing is a
person's BELIEFS are about their real or imagined events.
Step C is what people FEEL and DO as a consequence of what they belief about the real or imagined events, themselves,
others and life. The basic questions are:
1) How did you make yourself feel when that happen? How do you make yourself feel
when you imagine those other things happening?
2) What, if anything, did you do because of how you made yourself feel? What, if anything,
are you planning to do?
This is often a good place to ask questions like those in Tool #8. Such questions are called Functional Disputes. For example,
1) What do you really want? How do you want to feel?
2) How is what you're thinking, feeling, saying and doing (or thinking to do) working for you?
3) Did that/would that make your life better or worse?"
4) What might be your mistaken goal in doing that?
.The basic questions are:
1) What were you thinking when you made yourself feel that way?
2) What was going through your head?
3) What were you telling yourself?
Step B is called THOUGHT CATCHING. You try to catch
thoughts that normally fly through peoples' minds at such
high speed that they are not totally aware of them. It's also
called TURNING PRIVATE TALK INTO PUBLIC SPEECH.
People feel, say and do all kinds of things that aren't in their
best interests because they keep secrets. What doesn't
come out in words often comes out in their behavior. What
they think is often the irrational logic of their behavior. The
way they act may be irrational. It makes their life worse
instead of better. However, what they do will make more
sense, even seem more logical, or at least more understand-
able once we understand how they think or look at things
It's not uncommon for people to answer "I don't know" to
such questions. If they do, we have to brainstorm what their
beliefs might be. We can then them with a "line up", just
likpolice do when someone witnesses a crime. Here's a
chart for brainstorming DEMANDS. You simply combine the
phrases listed on the left with the appropriate pronoun. e
He, she, they I This, It
How dare...? +
How could...? + + +
Can't + + +
Shouldn't + + +
Have to + + +
Should + + +
Need + + +
Remember that ANGER comes from making demands of
others that don't get met. So you would combine "You, He,
She or They" with the phrases on the left. Anxiety, shame
and guilt comes from making demands of self, so you'd use
the pronoun "I". Depression comes from making demands of
life, so the pronouns "This, It" would be used.
To brainstorm the other three types of irrational beliefs, you simply add the real or imagined events to the following phrases:
It's really AWFUL that + EVENT They're ______ for + BEHAVIOR
It'd be AWFUL if + Imagined EVENT They'd be _____ to + Imagined BEHAVIOR
I CAN'T STAND when + EVENT I'm _______ for + BEHAVIOR
I'd JUST DIE if + Imagined EVENT I'd be ______ to + Imagined BEHAVIOR
I'll GO CRAZY if + Imagined EVENT