Interpersonal Counseling in the Treatment of Adolescent Depression: A Randomized Controlled Effectiveness and Feasibility Study in School Health and Welfare Services

P. Parhiala, K. Ranta, V. Gergov, J. Kontunen, R. Law, A. M. La Greca, M. Torppa, M. Marttunen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In order to offer early and accessible treatment for adolescents with depression, brief and effective treatments in adolescents’ everyday surroundings are needed. This randomized controlled trial studied the preliminary effectiveness, feasibility, and acceptability of interpersonal counseling (IPC) and brief psychosocial support (BPS) in school health and welfare services. The study was conducted in the 28 lower secondary schools of a large city in Southern Finland, randomized to provide either IPC or BPS. Help-seeking 12–16-year-old adolescents with mild-to-moderate depression, with and without comorbid anxiety, were included in the study. Fifty-five adolescents received either 6 weekly sessions of IPC or BPS and two follow-up sessions. Outcome measures included self- and clinician-rated measures of depression, global functioning, and psychological distress/well-being. To assess feasibility and acceptability of the treatments, adolescents’ and counselors’ treatment compliance and satisfaction with treatment were assessed. Both treatments were effective in reducing depressive disorders and improving adolescents’ overall functioning and well-being. At post-treatment, in both groups, over 50% of adolescents achieved recovery based on self-report and over 70% based on observer report. Effect sizes for change were medium or large in both groups at post-treatment and increased at 6-month follow-up. A trend indicating greater baseline symptom severity among adolescents treated in the IPC-providing schools was observed. Adolescents and counselors in both groups were satisfied with the treatment, and 89% of the adolescents completed the treatments and follow-ups. This trial suggests that both IPC and BPS are feasible, acceptable, and effective treatments for mild-to-moderate depression in the school setting. In addition, IPC seems effective even if comorbid anxiety exists. Our study shows that brief, structured interventions, such as IPC and BPS, are beneficial in treating mild-to-moderate depression in school settings and can be administered by professionals working at school. Trial registrationhttp://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT03001245.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-283
Number of pages19
JournalSchool Mental Health
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Brief treatment
  • Depression
  • Interpersonal counseling
  • School health and welfare services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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