HISTORY (an excerpt modified from the chapter on Systems Theory)

ABCCAT (Affective Behavioural Cognitive Computer Assisted Therapy) is a standardised system for delivery of CBT type therapy to patients with depressive disorders. It was developed by myself (Dr. Athula Polonowita) in the late 1990ís and has been evaluated in private psychiatry practice. It involves fifteen sessions of therapy targeting problems and goal attainment and involves extensive psychoeducation about depression and teaches patients coping skills.

By the 1980ís behavioural and cognitive techniques in psychological management of psychiatric patients had been established and were combined to form a new approach of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. It had its antecendents in the work of Ellis, Beck, Marks and Michenbaum. By the end of that decade the effectiveness of such an approach was very evident both in evidence base and in clinical practice.

However, the dynamic aspects of a patientís life, which included the intrinsic need many patients had of taking a narrative approach in therapy, did not fir well with this model. This was particularly so with patients with depressive and personality disorders. As a result a number of approaches which took into account the narrative and dynamic aspects of a patientís presentation were operationalised and found to be effective. Some examples of such approaches include IPT, DBT and Cognitive Affective Empathy training. In addition to looking at directly changing the patientís behaviour and thoughts these methods looked at changing the affective experience as well. It is not that CBT did not seek changes in affect but that the CBT model considered affect as secondary and would naturally change with change of cognition and behaviour.

This was the primary motivation in seeking to develop a new approach to CBT involving direct attention to affect (emotions) of the patient and seeking to change their attitude towards them as well.

This approach was initially operationalised in a Group Therapy setting in the mid 1990ís and later adapted to an invidual therapy format. In 1998 this standardised approach was developed in to a computer program making it easier to disseminate it.


Victoria, Australia:

Practice of ABCCAT is currently restricted to Australia and has been used by a number of GP's, Psychiatrists and Mental Health nurses.
Mednet Australia intends to provide a training course in ABCCAT for professionals commencing in 2011.
Mednet  provides supervision for nurse clinicians employed by us.

Learn more about ABCCAT:

Further information on ABCCAT including research and manuals used in this therapeutic approach can be accessed at the ABCCAT Homepage.


ABCAT at Mednet Australia

Please download the following one page document (in portable document format- requires Adobe Acrobat or similar reader) which will inform you further about the content of the 15 session course:

Quick Glance Session Guide

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