Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents

Mental Health Promising

Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents (IPT-A) is designed to treat adolescents with depressive disorders. IPT-A is an adaptation of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) for depressed adults (Weissman, et al. Manual).

 

In IPT-A, therapists focus on the reciprocal relationship between mood and relationships. Therapists also focus on the impact on depressive symptoms. IPT-A aims to help adolescents identify their feelings and understand how interpersonal and environmental factors impact their mood, strengthen communication and problem-solving skills, improve interpersonal skills and relationships, and manage or decrease depressive symptoms. IPT-A is an individual treatment, however, therapists might also meet with parents or guardians for 1-3 sessions as needed.

 

IPT-A is time-limited and includes three phases. During the initial phase, the therapist provides psychoeducation to the adolescent and parents about depression and explains IPT-A treatment goals. The therapist and adolescent also discuss the adolescent’s most important relationships to identify strengths and problems in their communication and problem solving skills. The therapist and adolescent also co-develop a “treatment contract” that clearly states an area of focus, goals, and expectations for treatment. During the middle phase, the therapist and adolescent explore the area of focus in greater depth. The therapist teaches the adolescent communication skills and problem-solving strategies to help them better navigate interpersonal situations. During the termination phase, the therapist and adolescent review skills learned, progress made, and feelings around ending treatment. The therapist, adolescent, and parents determine whether additional treatment is needed and how the parent can support the adolescent’s continued use of new skills.


Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents is rated as a promising practice because at least one study achieved a rating of moderate or high on study design and execution and demonstrated a favorable effect on a target outcome.


Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed: Feb 2021


Sources

The program or service description, target population, and program or service delivery and implementation information was informed by the following sources: The California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness, the program or service developer’s website, the program or service manual, and the studies reviewed.


This information does not necessarily represent the views of the program or service developers. For more information on how this program or service was reviewed, visit the Review Process page or download the Handbook.

Target Population

IPT-A was developed for adolescents (12-18 years) with mild to moderate symptoms of a depressive disorder. It is not indicated for those who are bipolar, acutely suicidal or homicidal, psychotic, intellectually disabled, or actively abusing substances.

Dosage

IPT-A is a time-limited treatment. Therapists typically work one-on-one with adolescents over the course of 12 weekly sessions. The initial phase spans sessions 1-4, the middle phase spans sessions 5-9, and the termination phase spans sessions 10-12. Each session lasts approximately 45-60 minutes. Therapists may also meet with parents or guardians for 1-3 sessions, as needed. These sessions may or may not include the adolescent, depending on what the therapist determines is most beneficial.

Location/Delivery Setting
Recommended Locations/Delivery Settings

IPT-A sessions typically occur in outpatient settings, including outpatient clinics and therapists’ offices, schools, and primary care settings.

Location/Delivery Settings Observed in the Research

  • School

Education, Certifications and Training

IPT-A is delivered by therapists who have a master’s or doctoral degree in clinical or counseling psychology, or a master’s degree in social work and have attended formal training programs for IPT-A. The main goals of IPT-A training are for therapists to learn practical skills for delivering IPT-A, to learn how to work collaboratively with parents and educational services, to learn how to conceptualize situations from an interpersonal perspective, and to better understand the theoretical origins and research literature related to IPT-A.

Program or Service Documentation
Book/Manual/Available documentation used for review

Mufson, L., Dorta, K. P., Moreau, D., & Weissman, M. M. (2004). Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.

Available languages

The IPT-A manual is available in English, Japanese, and Mandarin.

Other supporting materials

Overview of IPT-A

Contact Information for Developers

Website: https://interpersonalpsychotherapy.org/

Phone: (615) 324-2365

Email: info@interpersonalpsychotherapy.org

Results of Search and Review Number of Studies Identified and Reviewed for Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents
Identified in Search 6
Eligible for Review 3
Rated High 1
Rated Moderate 2
Rated Low 0
Reviewed Only for Risk of Harm 0
Outcome Effect Size Effect Size more info
and Implied Percentile Effect Implied Percentile Effect more info
N of Studies (Findings) N of Participants Summary of Findings
Child well-being: Behavioral and emotional functioning 0.76
27
3 (10) 163 Favorable: 9
No Effect: 1
Unfavorable: 0
Child well-being: Social functioning 0.64
23
1 (5) 57 Favorable: 4
No Effect: 1
Unfavorable: 0

Note: For the effect sizes and implied percentile effects reported in the table, a positive number favors the intervention group and a negative number favors the comparison group.

Outcome Effect Size Effect Size more info
and Implied Percentile Effect Implied Percentile Effect more info
N of Studies (Findings) N of Participants Summary of Findings Months after treatment
when outcome measured
Months after treatment when outcome measured more info
Child well-being: Behavioral and emotional functioning 0.76
27
3 (10) 163 Favorable: 9
No Effect: 1
Unfavorable: 0
-
Mufson, 1999
Beck Depression Inventory 0.56
21
- 32 - 0
Mufson, 2004
Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (12 weeks post enrollment) 0.74 *
27
- 57 - 0
Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (16 weeks post enrollment) 0.67 *
24
- 58 - 0
Clinical Global Impressions Scale: Severity of Illness 0.58 *
21
- 57 - 0
Clinical Global Impressions Scale: Global Improvement 0.78 *
28
- 57 - 0
Beck Depression Inventory 0.58 *
21
- 57 - 0
Tang, 2009
Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation 0.77 *
27
- 73 - 0
Beck Depression Inventory-II 0.86 *
30
- 73 - 0
Beck Hopelessness Scale 0.99 *
33
- 73 - 0
Beck Anxiety Inventory 1.06 *
35
- 73 - 0
Child well-being: Social functioning 0.64
23
1 (5) 57 Favorable: 4
No Effect: 1
Unfavorable: 0
-
Mufson, 2004
Social Adjustment Scale-Self-Report: School 0.59 *
22
- 51 - 0
Social Adjustment Scale-Self-Report: Friends 0.38
14
- 57 - 0
Social Adjustment Scale-Self-Report: Family 0.65 *
24
- 57 - 0
Social Adjustment Scale-Self-Report: Dating 0.67 *
24
- 57 - 0
Social Adjustment Scale-Self-Report: Overall 0.90 *
31
- 57 - 0

*p <.05

Note: For the effect sizes and implied percentile effects reported in the table, a positive number favors the intervention group and a negative number favors the comparison group. Effect sizes and implied percentile effects were calculated by the Prevention Services Clearinghouse as described in the Handbook of Standards and Procedures, Section 5.10.4 and may not align with effect sizes reported in individual publications.

Only publications with eligible contrasts that met design and execution standards are included in the individual study findings table.

Full citations for the studies shown in the table are available in the "Studies Reviewed" section.

Sometimes study results are reported in more than one document, or a single document reports results from multiple studies. Studies are identified below by their Prevention Services Clearinghouse study identification numbers.

Studies Rated High

Study 10895

Tang, T.C., Jou, S.H., Ko, C.H., Huang, S.Y., & Yen, C.F. (2009). Randomized study of school-based intensive interpersonal psychotherapy for depressed adolescents with suicidal risk and parasuicide behaviors. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 63(4), 463-470. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1819.2009.01991.x


Studies Rated Moderate

Study 10892

Mufson, L., Weissman, M. M., Moreau, D., & Garfinkel, R. (1999). Efficacy of Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents. Archives of General Psychiatry, 56(6), 573-579. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.56.6.573

Study 10890

Mufson, L., Dorta, K. P., Wickramaratne, P., Nomura, Y., Olfson, M., & Weissman, M. M. (2004). A randomized effectiveness trial of Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents. Archives of General Psychiatry, 61(6), 577-584. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.61.6.577

Young, J. F., Mufson, L., & Davies, M. (2006). Impact of comorbid anxiety in an effectiveness study of Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 45(8), 904-912. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.chi.0000222791.23927.5f

Gunlicks-Stoessel, M., Mufson, L., Jekal, A., & Turner, J. B. (2010). The impact of perceived interpersonal functioning on treatment for adolescent depression: IPT-A versus treatment as usual in school-based health clinics. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 260-267. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018935

Gunlicks-Stoessel, M., & Mufson, L. (2011). Early patterns of symptom change signal remission with Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents. Depression and Anxiety, 28(7), 525-531. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.20849

Mufson, L., Yanes-Lutkin, P., Gunlicks-Stoessel, M., & Wickramaratne, P. (2014). Cultural competency and its effect on treatment outcome of IPT-A in school-based health clinics. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 68(4), 417-442. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.2014.68.4.417

McGlinchey, E. L., Reyes-Portillo, J. A., Turner, J. B., & Mufson, L. (2017). Innovations in practice: The relationship between sleep disturbances, depression, and interpersonal functioning in treatment for adolescent depression. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 22(2), 96-99. https://doi.org/10.1111/camh.12176

Reyes-Portillo, J. A., McGlinchey, E. L., Yanes-Lukin, P. K., Turner, J. B., & Mufson, L. (2017). Mediators of Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents on outcomes in Latinos: The role of peer and family interpersonal functioning. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 5(4), 248-260. https://doi.org/10.1037/lat0000096




Studies Not Eligible for Review

Study 10891

Gunlicks-Stoessel, M., Westervelt, A., Reigstad, K., Mufson, L., & Lee, S. (2019). The role of attachment style in Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents. Psychotherapy Research, 29(1), 78-85. https://doi.org/10.1080/10503307.2017.1315465

Gunlicks-Stoessel, M., Mufson, L., Westervelt, A., Almirall, D., & Murphy, S. (2016). A pilot SMART for developing an adaptive treatment strategy for adolescent depression. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 45(4), 480-494. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2015.1015133

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).

Study 10893

Mufson, L., Rynn, M., Yanes-Lukin, P., Choo, T., Soren, K., Stewart, E., & Wall, M. (2018). Stepped Care Interpersonal Psychotherapy Treatment for Depressed Adolescents: A pilot study in pediatric clinics. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 45(3), 417-431. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-017-0836-8

This study is ineligible for review because it is not a study of the program or service under review (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.6).

Study 10894

Rosselló, J., & Bernal, G. (1999). The efficacy of cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal treatments for depression in Puerto Rican adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(5), 734-745. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.67.5.734

Rosselló, J., Bernal, G., & Rivera-Medina, C. (2008). Individual and group CBT and IPT for Puerto Rican adolescents with depressive symptoms. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 14(3), 234-245. https://doi.org/10.1037/1099-9809.14.3.234

Rosselló, J., Bernal, G., & Rivera-Medina, C. (2012). Individual and group CBT and IPT for Puerto Rican adolescents with depressive symptoms. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 1(S), 36-51. https://doi.org/10.1037/2168-1678.1.S.36

This study is ineligible for review because it is not a study of the program or service under review (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.6).