About the Author
Allan Abbass, MD, is a psychiatrist, teacher, and researcher. He is a professor of psychiatry and psychology and the founding director of the Centre for Emotions and Health at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.
After completing medical school at Dalhousie University, Allan started his career as a family physician and emergency physician but soon became frustrated with the limits of traditional medicine. He observed that a large percentage of his patients experienced physical and mental symptoms that medications failed to address. So he decided to add a year of family medicine residency at McGill University to study a form of short-term psychotherapy.
At McGill University he was immersed in Dr. Habib Davanloo’s training and research program, where he discovered what these symptomatic patients were actually looking for: an emotional corrective experience with a caring professional. With his first two patient contacts he had no doubt about the power of the human relationship to help heal old attachment trauma.
This experience had a dramatic effect on Allan, who decided to complete a psychiatry residency at the University of Toronto to teach and research in psychotherapy. From there he went to the University of British Columbia, where he established a university-based training program in ISTDP and led a provincial tertiary program for people with severe personality disorders.
In 1998 he returned home to Dalhousie University—first as director of psychotherapy and then director of education for the university’s department of psychiatry. In his first seven years there, he won departmental, regional, and national awards for excellence in education. In 2013 he was awarded the Douglas Utting Prize for his contributions in the area of major depression. His innovative program to diagnose and treat emotional contributors to medically unexplained symptoms in the emergency department won a quality award and a national designation as a “Canadian Leading Practice.” Similar programs have followed in other Canadian and international jurisdictions. He was named Distinguished Professor of 2016 at the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science and in 2018.
Since 2000 he has been consulted widely by governments, universities, and health agencies on the cost-effectiveness and applicability of short-term psychotherapy. He has provided over 300 invited presentations around the world as well as ongoing video-recording-based training to professionals in several countries. In addition, he has been awarded seventeen research grants and has over 250 publications.
He has been a consultant to the American Psychological Association on the Unified Psychotherapy Project and to the American Psychoanalytic Association, where he serves on the Scientific Committee. He was a board member of the International Experiential Dynamic Therapy Association. He has been an editorial board member for the American Psychological Association journal Psychotherapy. He is proud to be the David Malan Professor of Psychotherapy at the Tavistock, London, UK.
An avid basketball fan and player, Allan uses an approach that incorporates the notions of collaborative teamwork: practicing a lot, helping others perform their best, and teaching complex concepts in the simplest ways possible.