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Developmental Demands of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression in Children and Adolescents: Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Processes

Garber, J.; Frankel, S.A.; Herrington, C.G.

Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 12: 181-216

2016


ISSN/ISBN: 1548-5951
PMID: 27019397
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032814-112836
Accession: 057605494

Although some treatments for depression in children and adolescents have been found to be efficacious, the effects sizes have tended to be modest. Thus, there is considerable room to improve upon existing depression treatments. Some children may respond poorly because they do not yet have the cognitive, social, or emotional maturity needed to understand and apply the skills being taught in therapy. Therefore, treatments for depression may need to be tailored to match children's ability to both comprehend and implement the therapeutic techniques. This review outlines the steps needed for such developmental tailoring: (a) Specify the skills being taught in depression treatments; (b) identify what cognitive, social, and emotional developmental abilities are needed to attain these skills; (c) describe the normative developmental course of these skills and how to determine a child's developmental level; and (d) use this information to design an individualized treatment plan. Possible approaches to intervening include: alter the therapy to meet the child's level of development, train the child on the skills needed to engage in the therapy, or apply a dynamic assessment approach that integrates evaluation into treatment and measures children's current abilities as well as their potential.

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