A Cost-effective, Evidence-based Intervention for Depressed Adolescents


December 14, 2016
Written by Paul Berger, Managing Director at SAAVSUS Inc

Funded by a series of grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Adolescent Coping with Depression Course (CWD-A) is an evidence-based, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for adolescent depression. The course materials, Leaders Manual and Student Workbook, are available as a free download at:  http://www.saavsus.com/adolescent-coping-with-depression-course

The CWD-A is designed for use with groups of four to eight adolescents, or it can be modified for use on an individual basis. The treatment sessions are conducted as a class in which a group leader teaches adolescents a variety of skills for successfully controlling depression. An important feature is that the course is non-stigmatizing, with the treatment presented and conducted as a class in coping skills rather than as a “therapy.” It is a cost-effective, community-oriented approach that can successfully reach the great majority of depressed adolescents who typically do not make use of the services of school counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals.

The CWD-A was designed to be completed in 16 two-hour sessions scheduled over an 8 week span of time. However, an adaptation guide for providing the content in different formats (e.g. shorter sessions, a modular format, or on an individual basis) is provided as a .pdf on the download page.

The CWD-A was initially developed and evaluated, then examined for efficacy starting with the initial project in the mid 80’s (Clarke, 1985) with 21 adolescents. Only one teen reported continued symptoms of depression at the end of treatment. Since that initial study there have been four large randomized controlled trials numerous projects and publications documenting the effectiveness of this program for adolescent depression. The combined results have shown that the program is effective at helping to alleviate the symptoms of depression for adolescents.

The Adolescent Coping with Depression Course is listed on the following registries:
  • SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices
  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development
  • Promising Practices Network on Children, Families, and Communities
  • Early Intervention Foundation
  • The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness

Saavsus offers printed materials for the CWD-A along with an interactive program training DVD featuring program development staff. We also offer online and onsite training services delivered by the program development staff. Efficacy research and information on available course support is available along with the free course materials download at: http://www.saavsus.com/adolescent-coping-with-depression-course


Thank you Paul and Neil for your on-going support and commitment to improving the lives of all children and families!

Contact Paul and Neil at http://www.saavsus.com/contact/  to learn more about the course and the work being done at SAAVSUS
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