We are very excited to announce that PrairieCare and the University of Minnesota are partnering to conduct a research study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, that aims to address this exact question of how psychotherapy works. The study is focusing specifically on adolescent depression and two particular psychotherapy programs that aim to treat depression in this age group.
Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents (IPT-A). IPT-A is a psychotherapy that aims to decrease depressive symptoms by helping adolescents improve their relationships and interpersonal interactions. The initial phase of treatment focuses on exploring the adolescent’s significant relationships and identifying the problem area that will be the focus of treatment. The therapist then identifies and teaches specific communication and interpersonal problem-solving skills that can improve the interpersonal difficulties that are most closely tied to the depression. The adolescent practices these skills in session with the goal of implementing them in their current relationships.
The American Psychological Association has developed criteria for classifying the extent to which a particular psychotherapy approach has enough empirical support to warrant its dissemination. They classify interventions as well established, probably efficacious, possibly efficacious, experimental, and not effective. IPT-A is one of two well-established interventions for adolescent depression (the other is cognitive behavioral therapy).
PrairieCare’s Usual Psychotherapy Practices. The therapists at PrairieCare implement a wide variety of psychotherapy approaches when working with adolescents who are experiencing depression. While therapies like IPT-A were developed in research settings, when therapists deliver therapy in real life real-world settings, they often develop ways of adapting these research-based therapies or they develop new ways of intervening with youth that they observe to be helpful. Researchers are very interested in learning more about these therapy approaches that have developed within the mental health care system, as it may help us to learn new ways and more effective ways of making treatments work in real-world settings.
We are excited about this opportunity to embark on this research partnership. It is a unique opportunity for PrairieCare providers and clients and University of Minnesota researchers to collaborate to contribute to knowledge that can help improve clinical practice and treatment outcomes for adolescents with a diagnosis that can have a profound impact on health and well-being.