A pilot feasibility study of interpersonal psychotherapy in adolescents diagnosed with specific learning disorders, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or both with depression and/or anxiety symptoms (IPT-ALD)

A. Brunstein-Klomek, D. Kopelman-Rubin, A. Apter, H. Argintaru, L. Mufson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Specific learning disorders (SLD) significantly interfere with academic functioning and interpersonal relationships and often co-occur with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and anxiety symptoms. Most of the interventions for SLD adolescents have focused on enhancing cognitive and learning skills. Interpersonal psychotherapy for depressed adolescents (IPT-A) is a time-limited, evidenced-based psychotherapy for depressed adolescents. It combines interpersonal, emotional, and behavioral work. This is the first study to examine the feasibility and acceptability of IPT-A adapted for adolescents diagnosed with SLD, ADHD, or both with depression and anxiety symptoms (IPT-ALD). The participants consisted of 18 adolescents who started the treatment, ages 10-17 years (mean 12.57) while 15 completed the intervention. Seven out of the 15 completers were followed up after 3 months. The intervention included 15 weekly sessions and 3 follow-up sessions. The skills-based intervention focuses on an identified problem area and aims to improve the adolescent's coping with their SLD/ADHD challenges; reduce anxiety and depression symptoms; and improve interpersonal and social functioning. Results indicated that IPT-ALD is a feasible treatment to deliver with high satisfaction. Attachment to mother and school avoidance significantly improved from beginning to end of acute treatment. At 3-month follow-up, youths' self-reports indicated fewer general difficulties and more significant improvement in generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, social phobia, and school avoidance. Improvement at the 3-month follow-up indicated that some of the changes for these youths may have a delayed impact. Future studies should examine the effectiveness of the intervention in a randomized control trial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-539
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Psychotherapy Integration
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Learning disorders

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