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Have a Problematic Behavior? Learn What Triggers It With These Apps

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Most people have had negative experiences that left them feeling inadequate. Many of those negative emotions and behaviors stem from their own irrational beliefs and inappropriate thought patterns.

Explore what the ABC model in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) says about this and discover useful apps that can help you develop more positive responses to situations that trigger you.

What Is the ABC Model?

The ABC model, which was developed by Dr. Albert Ellis, is an approach used in CBT that aims to help people recognize distortions in their thinking that lead to negative feelings and behaviors.

ABC Model

ABC stands for the following:

  • Activating events: Situations that occur before the behavior or negative emotion.
  • Beliefs: The subconscious explanations you tell yourself for why the situation happened. They can be rational or irrational.
  • Consequence: The feelings and behaviors that followed the interpretation of the situation.

A key purpose of the ABC model is to help a person see how a situation can lead to irrational beliefs or evaluations that, in turn, can lead to negative consequences.

Using the ABC model directs a person’s focus at their reactions—which they can control—over the environment—which is beyond their control.

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Related: The Best Therapy and Counseling Apps for Mental Health Aid

The model can be summarized in this way: “This is how I see the situation, so I feel and do this.”

The ABC model encourages you to reevaluate a situation and recognize distorted thought patterns. As a result, you can re-interpret the situation or “reframe” it based on reality rather than your own thoughts.

Examples of the ABC Model in Action

To use ABC, you must go back to the event and challenge the thought you had about the situation. Begin identifying other possible beliefs or explanations causing the event.

In the exampled described by the following diagram, it may be that your colleague is going through something tough or need to accomplish something urgently.


Example of negative perspective about colleague at work

Meanwhile, in the following example, a person falls back to their belief that failing a test makes them a failure.

Example of a Negative Perspective About Failing an Exam

Using the ABC method, they can start reframing it—that is, seeing it in a more realistic light. There is no evidence that failing an exam would mean that they are a failure.

Cognitive Distortions

The following are some examples of distorted thinking that the ABC method can help you identify:

  • All-or-Nothing Thinking: You view things or situations in absolute terms.
  • Not Counting the Positive: You dismiss positive situations while most often being more receptive to negative ones.
  • Prediction: You believe in your predictions with absolute certainty.
  • Emotional Reasoning: You interpret your feelings as truths about the situation.

Apps That Can Help You Identify Problematic Behaviors

The apps listed below use CBT techniques to help you manage your mood, deal with negative emotions, and cope with stress and anxiety.

Aside from CBT-based methods, they also have other features that can help you improve your mental health, including breathing techniques, journaling, mood tracking, and more.

CBT Thought Diary

CBT Thought Diary offers CBT-based techniques to make you a personalized plan based on your goals and stress levels.

Features include the following:

  • Guided Journals use CBT to help a person process their thoughts, become aware of their negative patterns of thinking, and reframe them.
  • Crash Courses inform users about the basics of significant mental health topics like stress management, CBT, and more.
  • Detailed Assessments provide access to the app’s vast collection of validated self-report tools that are widely used by mental health professionals.
  • Personalized Insights show users interesting patterns based on their journal entries, like activities that can uplift their mood and the most common negative experience they feel.


Download: CBT Thought Diary for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)

What’s Up?​​​​

This free app utilizes CBT and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help people cope with various mental health concerns. It has a simple, minimalist interface that provides a rich resource to meet your needs.

The app has several sections, including the following:

  • Help Right Now: This contains exercises that can help you calm down, like breathing techniques, a Catastrophe Scale, and Uplifting Quotes, among others.
  • Coping Strategies: This helps you cope with your thoughts and feelings by helping you identify negative thought patterns, providing you with metaphors to help you better understand your thoughts.
  • Information: This section gives readers a deeper understanding of topics like anxiety and stress.
  • Personal: This section houses tools that can help a person keep track of their feelings and negative and positive habits.

Download: What’s Up for iOS | Android (Free)

Bloom: CBT Therapy & Self-Care

Bloom combines CBT with journaling, mindfulness exercises, and a vast collection of interactive video classes to help you improve your mood and overall well-being.

The app allows you to explore categories like stress, frustration, and motivation and select which activities you want to do. Activities include journaling, breathing exercises, mindfulness series, and others.

Related: Is Bloom Worth It?

Under each category are subcategories that aim to narrow down the cause of your negative emotion. For example, choosing stress leads to subcategories like stress from under productivity and Relationship stress.

These subcategories contain a range of sessions that you can listen to or watch.

Download: Bloom for iOS (Subscription required, free trial available)

Ladder: CBT Self Care Journal​​​​

Ladder uses CBT, positive CBT, and the power of habits to help you overcome challenges that stem from negative thinking patterns.

The app reminds you to check in after waking up and before sleeping, but you can access it whenever you want. It also gives you supportive practices like meditation and breathing based on your current feelings.

In addition, it can help you improve your mood, create positive routines, and work toward your goals. The app will generate progress insights for each of your goals that you can use to stay motivated.

Download: Ladder for iOS (Free, subscription available)

Take Charge of Your Thoughts

You may not be aware of it at all times, but your thoughts affect how you feel and behave. Most of this happens unconsciously. But these CBT-based apps can help you become more aware of this process.

By using these apps, you may be able to identify what triggers your challenging behaviors and negative emotions so that you can try to change your reactions to them.


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