Meredith Gunlicks-Stoessel, M.D.

Fellow in Child & Adolescent ADHD

Project Details


Laura Mufson, Ph.D.


Columbia University


Efficacy of Parent Involvement in the Treatment of Adolescent Depression


Efficacy of Parent Involvement in the Treatment of Adolescent Depression


A number of family characteristics have been found to place adolescents at risk for depression, including parental psychopathology, coercive and unsupportive parenting practices, and family conflict.

Parent-adolescent conflict also predicts lack of recovery with treatment and recurrence of depression post-treatment.

Given the impact of family functioning on the development and resolution of adolescent depression, providing treatments that specifically target these family factors should be expected to lead to better outcomes for depressed adolescents. There is debate in the field as to whether the best approach is to work with the adolescent individually to foster greater independence and develop strategies for coping with family difficulties, or to include the parents in the treatment and directly intervene in the family’s interpersonal processes.

Dr. Gunlicks-Stoessel aims to address this question by conducting a randomized controlled pilot study of individual interpersonal psychotherapy for depressed adolescents in comparison to interpersonal psychotherapy delivered with structured parent involvement. She will assess the impact of the two treatments on adolescents’ depressive symptoms, quality of parent-adolescent relationships, observational assessments of parents’ and adolescents’ communication skills, and adolescents’physiological stress responses to negotiating conflict with parents.

Identifying the best approach to treating both adolescent depression and the family environment in which it develops and is maintained would have significant implications for the long-term outcomes of depressed adolescents and their families.

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