Objective: To describe a new model of the adaptation process following acquired brain injury, based on the patient's goals, the patient's abilities and the emotional response to the changes and the possible discrepancy between goals and achievements. Background: The process of adaptation after acquired brain injury is characterized by a continuous interaction of two processes: achieving maximal restoration of function and adjusting to the alterations and losses that occur in the various domains of functioning. Consequently, adaptation requires a balanced mix of restoration-oriented coping and loss-oriented coping. The commonly used framework to explain adaptation and coping, 'The Theory of Stress and Coping' of Lazarus and Folkman, does not capture this interactive duality. Relevant theories: This model additionally considers theories concerned with self-regulation of behaviour, self-awareness and self-efficacy, and with the setting and achievement of goals. The two-dimensional model: Our model proposes the simultaneous and continuous interaction of two pathways; goal pursuit (short term and long term) or revision as a result of success and failure in reducing distance between current state and expected future state and an affective response that is generated by the experienced goal-performance discrepancies. This affective response, in turn, influences the goals set. This two-dimensional representation covers the processes mentioned above: restoration of function and consideration of long-term limitations. We propose that adaptation centres on readjustment of long-term goals to new achievable but desired and important goals, and that this adjustment underlies re-establishing emotional stability. We discuss how the proposed model is related to actual rehabilitation practice.