Cognitive-behavioral treatment of adolescent depression: efficacy of acute group treatment and booster sessions

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999 Mar;38(3):272-9. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199903000-00014.


Objective: This trial examined the effects of both acute and maintenance cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for depressed adolescents.

Method: Adolescents with major depression or dysthymia (N = 123) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 eight-week acute conditions: adolescent group CBT (16 two-hour sessions); adolescent group CBT with a separate parent group; or waitlist control. Subsequently, participants completing the acute CBT groups were randomly reassigned to 1 of 3 conditions for the 24-month follow-up period: assessments every 4 months with booster sessions; assessments only every 4 months; or assessments only every 12 months.

Results: Acute CBT groups yielded higher depression recovery rates (66.7%) than the waitlist (48.1%), and greater reduction in self-reported depression. Outcomes for the adolescent-only and adolescent + parent conditions were not significantly different. Rates of recurrence during the 2-year follow-up were lower than found with treated adult depression. The booster sessions did not reduce the rate of recurrence in the follow-up period but appeared to accelerate recovery among participants who were still depressed at the end of the acute phase.

Conclusions: The findings, which replicate and expand upon a previous study, support the growing evidence that CBT is an effective intervention for adolescent depression.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Dysthymic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Dysthymic Disorder / psychology
  • Dysthymic Disorder / therapy*
  • Family Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychotherapy, Group*
  • Recurrence
  • Retreatment
  • Treatment Outcome