Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the Treatment of Adolescent Depression: A Pilot Study in a Psychiatric Outpatient Setting
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Based on promising results with adults, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) presents as a treatment opportunity for depressed adolescents. We present a pilot study that compares ACT with treatment as usual (TAU), using random allocation of participants who were clinically referred to a psychiatric outpatient service. Participants were 30 adolescents, aged M = 14.9 (SD = 2.55), with 73.6% in the clinical range for depression. At posttreatment on measures of depression participants in the ACT condition showed significantly greater improvement statistically (d = 0.38), and 58% showed clinically reliable change with a response ratio of 1.59 in favor of ACT. Outcomes from 3-month follow-up data are tentative due to small numbers but suggest that improvement increased in magnitude. Measures of global functioning showed statistically significant improvement for both conditions, although clinical change measures favored only the ACT condition. The results support conducting a larger trial of ACT for the treatment of adolescent depression.
KeywordsAcceptance and Commitment Therapy Adolescent psychopathology Adolescent depression
This research project was funded by beyondblue: the national depression initiative. We would also like to acknowledge Joy Nichols and the staff at Ballarat Health Services Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) for accommodating the system change required to implement this project.
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