Coping with Stress Course

Categories

Categories associated with best practice:

  • PP-icon1
  • Teens (ages 13-18) icon
  • Community/ Neighbourhood
  • Health Care Setting
  • Healthy child development
  • Mental Health Icon 2
  • Personal health practices and coping skills
  • Secondary School Icon 1

Overview

The Coping With Stress (CWS) Course is a psychoeducational, cognitive-behavioral intervention for the prevention of unipolar depression in high school adolescents who have an increased risk of depression. It is not meant to be a treatment for active episodes of depression. It is designed to be offered on the school premises, either as a class during regular school hours, as an adjunct to a health class, or as an after-school therapy group or workshop.

The target population for this intervention are adolescents who already carry some known increased risk of depression, such as (a) having had a past episode of depression; (b) reporting persistent sub-diagnostic dysphoria and/or other depressive symptoms; (c) having depressed parents (d) being a pregnant, single teen mother; and/or (e) having some other known risk factor for depression.

The Coping With Stress Course consists of 15 one-hour sessions, which can be offered at a pace of 2 to 4 times per week, depending on site capabilities and needs. The first few sessions provide an overview of depression, its relationship to stressful situations, and an introduction to other group members. Subsequent sessions focus on training adolescents’ cognitive-restructuring skills and techniques for modifying irrational or negative self-statements and thoughts which are hypothesized to contribute to the development and maintenance of depressive disorder.

The general approach has been modified from cognitive therapy for depressed adults, developed by Beck and colleagues and Ellis. More directly, the Coping with Stress Course is a direct descendant of the Adolescent Coping with Depression Course, a cognitive behavioral treatment for adolescent major depression and/or dysthymia, which is itself a modification of the adult Coping With Depression Course.

Three randomized trials, including one involving adolescents at multiple sites in four US cities, found the Coping with Stress Course to be effective in reducing depressive symptomology and preventing the onset of depression. However, the program may not be more effective than usual care in preventing depressive episodes for adolescents whose parents were depressed at baseline.

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