The Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP) was developed specifically to treat the chronically depressed adult. It has been tested in the largest psychotherapy and medication clinical trial ever conducted in either psychology and psychiatry and was found to be as effective as medication, and when combined with medicine, it produced highly significant response to treatment rates. The results were reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in May, 2000 (see Research Articles for full reference).

CBASP was developed over a period of years by James P. McCullough, Jr., Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry, at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. McCullough began working with this population during the mid-1970s beginning a step-by-step, inductive, trial-by-error process which led to the construction of the current treatment model.

The therapy system synthesizes the theoretical writings of several prominent psychologists: Martin E.P. Seligman’s views of helplessness; Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory; Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive-emotional development; B.F. Skinner’s proposals describing the individual’s contingent relationship with his/her environment as well as his writings describing how behavior change occurs when a patient confronts directly the consequences of his/her behavior; finally, the interpersonal writings and theory of D.J. Kiesler. These variegated ideas and assumptions about early development, behavior, and behavior change have been synthesized by Dr. McCullough and provide the theoretical foundations for CBASP. The foundations of the model enable the therapist to treat the chronically depressed patient from a broadband perspective addressing cognitive-emotive-behavioral domains as they interact with the patient’s environment as well as to teach specific interpersonal skills.

Chronic depression is a disorder which lasts two or more years and without adequate treatment, it becomes a lifetime problem. There are approximately 20 million chronically depressed adults in the U.S. whose treatment expenses and costs to industry in terms of lowered work productivity and absenteeism exceed $40 billion annually. This figure does not include the social problems, financial depletion, discord in the marriage and family, and lowered quality of life which afflict this patient population. CBASP has been successfully administered to chronically depressed patients, and when CBASP is combined with a contemporary antidepressant medicine, prognosis for a favorable outcome is good.
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