Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for adolescent depression: Application with a diverse and predominantly socioeconomically disadvantaged sample

Rachel A. Petts, Juslissa A. Duenas, Scott T. Gaynor


The existing evidence supporting the use of contemporary behavior therapies for adolescent depression is promising but limited. Using a within-series simple phase-change design, 11 adolescents (M age=15.82, SD=1.40, 46% African-American, 36% Multi-Racial, 18% European-American) with major depressive disorder were offered 3 sessions of Motivational Interviewing Assessment (MIA; Phase A) followed by up to 12 sessions (M=6.3) of an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy protocol (ACT; Phase B). Group-level statistically significant effects were found during MIA on 2/5 variables— the Children's Depression Rating Scale – Revised (CDRS-R) and Behavioral Activation for Depression Scale – Short Form (BADS-SF)—while statistically significant changes were found during ACT on 5/5 variables, including the CDRS-R, BADS-SF, Beck Depression Inventory – II (BDI-II), Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL), and Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth-8 (AFQ-Y8). At the individual level, clinically significant changes on the CDRS–R were observed for 8/11 participants during ACT, while time series analyses controlling for MIA trend demonstrated statistically significant effect sizes on the BADS-SF and AFQ-Y8 for 5/11 and 3/11 participants, respectively. These data suggest the potential utility of ACT for youth from lower income families and from diverse backgrounds; however, given the small sample size and the simple phase-change design, additional research is clearly warranted.

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