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Demonstrate Your Understanding Of The Abcdef, Indicating How You Would Apply It In Counselling.

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2.5 Demonstrate your understanding of the ABCDEF, indicating how you would apply it in counselling.

The �ABC framework’ was created by Albert Ellis in the 1950’s and is mainly used by counsellors who use Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) or Rational Emotive Therapy (RET). It is also used by some Cognitive or Cognitive Behavioural therapists. ABCDEF are acronyms for the sequential method of working through these types of brief psychotherapies. The ABC method of working with people can be used in a whole range of circumstances but better suits those people who are willing to consistently work on changing their irrational beliefs and who can cope with having their beliefs challenged (Mulhauser 2006). The ABCDEF method is a useful means of �explaining emotional response and distress’ (Benner & Hill 1999, p. 1002) or �to illustrate the role of thinking processes in emotional disturbances (Walen, DiGiuseppe & Wessler 1980, p. 13).

In the initial stages of using the ABC framework the counsellor takes on an �active-directive approach’ while also teaching the skills of the therapy to the client (Walker, Burnham & Borland 1994, p. 872). The acronym �A’ stands for the Activating event which can be either external or internal to the client. �B’ is the Beliefs (either rigid or flexible beliefs), that are held by the person. Rigid beliefs are usually made up of words such as should, must and absolutes and are called irrational (or unhealthy) beliefs. Flexible beliefs are named rational (or healthy) beliefs. In the ABC framework the �C’ describes the emotional and behavioural consequences of the beliefs about A. �D’ is the point where the counsellor will Dispute the unhealthy beliefs. These beliefs can be quite overt and the person may be clearly aware that they hold them, or they may be hidden below the surface and have to be exposed by the counsellor (Walen et al 1980, p. 13). The client will be taught this process as well and in time will be able to challenge and bring into question any thoughts and beliefs that are causing issues in their life. The �E’ stands for Enacting of an Effective philosophy which means the replacing of irrational or unhealthy beliefs with rational or healthy beliefs thereby changing the Feelings a person has about the original event (F) (Perkins 2006).

The use of this method can be demonstrated through the description of a fictitious counselling session. Henry enters the counselling office looking very upset and speaking fast as he told the counsellor that his life was over now since his wife left him two weeks ago. He can see nothing but loneliness and pain. He can’t understand why these sorts of things happen to him all the time. He can’t work because he is so upset and now the boss is talking about sacking him. Everyone seems to be against him.

As with all counselling, actively listening to build rapport is important at the beginning of a session but since this is a much more directive therapy this is not the main focus instead Dryden (1990) suggests that once the basic rapport building stage is over the counsellor should adopt a problem solving attitude so that the main issues can be brought to the front early. It will also help to prioritise if the client has a number of issues that they are dealing with (p. 25). His wife leaving him is the activated event (A). The Consequences (C) are the feelings of depression and self pity and a general feeling that all is doomed and it will never get any better. Henry’s beliefs can be assessed through looking at a list of 12 common irrational beliefs originally developed by Ellis (2004), which has then been further broken down into three main belief systems:

1. Demands about self - I must do well or get approval

(and I’m a worm if I don’t)

2. Demands about others - You must treat me nicely

and kindly (and you’re a louse if you don’t)

3. Demands about the world/life conditions - The world

must give me what I want quickly, easily and with great

certainty (and its awful if it doesn’t)

(Dryden 1990, pp. 7-8; Walen et al 1980, p. 13).

Although there is some depression, the main feelings that are causing Henry to struggle are the feelings that everyone is against him. The feelings of self pity influence his thoughts leading him to demand that it all be fixed


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