The ABC Model of Cognitive Behavior Therapy

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In Flourish, Dr. Martin Seligman tells us:

First, students learn the ABC model: how beliefs (B) about an adversity (A)—and not the adversity itself—cause the consequent (C) feelings. This is a point of major insight for students: emotions don’t follow inexorably from external events but from what you think about those events, and you can actually change what you think.”

  • Adversity – often uncontrollable.
  • Beliefs – often controllable and/or changeable.
  • Consequent feelings – result not from adversity itself but from our beliefs about adversity and we can change our beliefs about adversity.

How do we change our beliefs about adversity? Seligman suggests we practice real-time resilience. Remember we can use reframe (a better way of seeing this is…), evidence (that’s not true because…), and/or a plan (if x, then I will y).

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