CBASP/Cognitive Behavioural Analysis System of Psychotherapy

Application areas: Chronic forms of depression.

Developed by: James McCullough in 2000.

Integrates theories of helplessness (Seligman), social learning theory (Bandura), cognitive-emotional development (Piaget), the individual’s relationship with his environment (Skinner) and interpersonal factors (Kiesler).

CBASP combines these theories of early developmental factors and behavioural change, by addressing cognitive-emotional-behavioural areas within context, together with developing interpersonal skills.

How it works

Pathology is seen as being disconnected from one’s environment; an inability to perceive and relate to the world.

This results in the individual not being able to be aware of the consequences of his/her behaviour.

Therapy aims at establishing a reconnection with the environment (others) within a safe, therapeutic relationship. The technique is called Situational Analysis, whereby attention is paid to the effect his/her behaviour has on others and the therapist, as well as to healing interpersonal trauma.

IDE (Interpersonal Discrimination Exercise) helps individuals to differentiate between the therapist and maltreating family members, as transference of feelings may occur. Contingent Personal Responsivity (CPR) addresses the individual’s unhelpful/inappropriate behaviour in session.

CBASP uses an interpersonal transference hypothesis. Four interpersonal domains are addressed during therapy. The IDE is used when any of these four areas are recognised, and the therapeutic relationship becomes instrumental in learning more appropriate interpersonal behaviour. 


Beth Cooper Howell Proof reader/copy editor

Contributions by
Prof David Edwards
Dr Linda Blokland
Matthew Watkin
Edgar Tyrone
Bertus Swanepoel
Dr Shane Pienaar-Du Bruyn