ABC Model

A + B = C Model

Most of us tend to think that challenging events occur and they automatically trigger the fight/flight response, however this is not correct.  There is another stage that happens after the event and influences whether the event will trigger the fight/flight response.  Dr Albert Ellis, founder of a form of talking therapy called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (very similar to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), identified the role that our thoughts, beliefs and self-talk play in triggering the fight/flight response.  He called this the A+B=C equation.


A = Activating Event

Activating events are the triggers that cause us potential stress.  As previously mentioned in Session 1 of this course there are different types of stressors.  There are the Life Event stressors, such as the death of a loved one, which are fortunately fairly rare; the majority of us would find these life events difficult and stressful.  Then there are the more common stressors called Daily Hassles.  Not everybody exposed to these daily hassles finds them stressful and this is partly because our individual beliefs, thoughts and perceptions about the daily hassles will determine if the event is stressful to us or not.


B = Beliefs

When we are born we come into this world with no beliefs, opinions, views or perceptions. From the moment we can talk and listen we start to learn the opinions of our parents, our peers, school etc.  We automatically start to use these beliefs as a template to interpret ourselves, other people and the world in general.  The problem is that other people may not necessarily have the same template, views and beliefs as us.  We use our beliefs to interpret what is happening to us. These beliefs may be accurate, possible, flexible and optimistic, these types of beliefs and thinking skills can help to reduce stress, however a lot of beliefs can be in the form of automatic negative thoughts and if they are rigid, negative, inflexible and pessimistic then this can exacerbate any stress we are under.  Fortunately it is possible to change our beliefs and so reduce our stress, the skills to do this are in Session 5.


C = Consequences

The final part of the A+B=C equation is Consequences.  Consequences refer to the feelings that occur as a consequence of our beliefs and self-talk in response to the activating event.  The consequences can be in the form of stress, anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, aggression, fear, worry, and frustration etc.


“We can’t always influence what others may say or do to us – but we CAN influence how we react TO it!”

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Year 1 Level 4 student at Cardiff Metropolitan University, studying BA (hons) Illustration A blog to reflect on my progress

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