This paper describes a cognitive model for first/second onset depression that has been precipitated by major life stress, entrenched for several months and is unresponsive to pharmacotherapy. These conditions create high risks for recurrent/chronic depression and early intervention is proposed to identify, treat and protect against relapse/recurrence. Severe life stress interacts with an individual's core self-representations and personal values, identity is disrupted and depression is maintained by dysfunctional goal engagement and disengagement. Treatment aims to restore functional self-regulation by increasing self-diversification and creating balanced goal investments. Outcome and follow-up data are reported in a case series of five consecutive patients. There was good therapist adherence to the prescribed targets and pre-post effect sizes were comparable or larger than published outcome studies. At the 12 month follow-up, three of the four treatment completers (75%) had made reliable and clinically significant changes and were in full remission. This provides encouraging preliminary evidence for the model's validity and the therapy's efficacy.