Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of Psychology


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Supervisor

Dr Lucius Arco


Behavioural activation (BA) is an emergent psychological treatment for depression rooted in the tradition of behavioural theory. This paper discusses the manner in which BA arose as a result of the seminal Jacobson et al. (1996) study, which dismantled the behavioural and cognitive components of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT; Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979). Published empirical studies examining the effectiveness of BA are reviewed and considerations for future research are offered. It is concluded that BA shows promise as a parsimonious, effective, and potentially cost-efficient psychological treatment for depression. However, more large-scale research is needed: in samples with low levels of comorbidity; comparing the effects of BA to other treatments on acute and long-term outcomes; comparing individual and group modality; and in providing evidence that the fundamental tenets of behavioural theory are demonstrated. The brief behavioural activation treatment for depression (BATD; Lejuez, Hopko, & Hopko, 2002) is a relatively uncomplicated and time efficient method for treating depression, which encompasses goal setting and activity scheduling strategies. Typically activities are scheduled from easiest to most difficult, however, there is evidence to suggest that performance, or activity level, may be improved by scheduling activities in a more challenging manner. This study involved two participants with mild to moderate depression (Beck Depression Inventory, BDI-11; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996), completing ten sessions of BATD using an "across-difficulty" procedure, where sets of three activities, of varying difficulty, were incrementally scheduled. A single participant multiple-baseline design across an increasing number of activities was used. Results showed a decrease from baseline BDI-11 scores of 28 and 16 to 1 and 6 post-treatment, with one month follow-up scores of 6 and 7, respectively. Behavioural observations exhibited increasing activity level coinciding with decreasing depression scores.