Behavioral Health Services

Charlene Caiano
Office: (802)-338-3445

Camp Johnson
Colchester, VT

Vermont Veterans Outreach Mental Health Services are available to Vermont Veterans, Service Members and their families. This program offers short-term, private/confidential, non-medical counseling and psycho-education in non-traditional settings to help veterans and their family members with such issues as deployment stress (family separations, reunions, and reintegration), marital/couple relationship issues, parenting and parent-child communications, and child behavioral concerns. These services are free, confidential and available to Veterans and families residing in Vermont.

NEWS | March 25, 2022

The ABC of Determining Behavior

Albert Ellis developed a model for irrational thinking called the A-B-C theory that describes the association between events, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The "A" represents activating events, specific people or situations that are causing the stress. The "B" corresponds to the beliefs or interpretation about the activating event. This belief or thought process represents what the individual perceived has happened or what is about to happen because of the stressful occurrence. The "C" stands for consequences. These feelings and behaviors constitute the individual’s reaction. An example of this process would be an alarm not sounding off. Some people may automatically think that they might get in trouble or even fired for being late. They could change their way of thinking by calling the office and explaining their situation to their associates. In doing this, they hope that their associates understand their situation and think that they are responsible workers. Thinking in a positive fashion takes being open minded and slowing down the thinking process. Taking control of "B" means pausing at "B" in order to think of a positive interpretation, while keeping “A” in perspective and hoping to change “C’s” reaction. Treatment is based on the assumption that if people can learn self-defeating behaviors, they can unlearn them as well. In other words, by disputing irrational beliefs and replacing them with rational beliefs, people can begin to cope with their stress or problems with living.

Learning the ABC technique is a critical step in the path to managing life’s emotional upsets. It challenges the client’s flawed inferences. The ABC process requires clients to answer the following four questions, which help them change good thoughts (the B’s) into healthier reactions (the C’s). The first question is “how is this particular stressful situation causing me to act and feel inappropriately? Unknown situations may be the cause of these negative responses. The second question is what thought processes are causing my distress? For example, I will have a hard time paying my bills if I lose my job. The third question is how do I take on and dissect my irrational thinking? There is no evidence that an individual’s worries may become his or her reality. Consider all the options objectively before creating judgments. The fourth question is what choices can I make to change my rationalizing (should of, would of, and could of)? For instance, I have the skills to succeed in any profession. Answering these questions can help people learn how to control their self-defeating behaviors creating new and positive behavioral changes.

Ellis, 1979b; Ellis & Bernard, 1986; Ellis, 1995; Palmer & Dryden, 1995; Corey, 1996; Ellis & Lange, 1997.