A1 Journal article (refereed)
Interpersonal Counseling in the Treatment of Adolescent Depression : A Randomized Controlled Effectiveness and Feasibility Study in School Health and Welfare Services (2020)

Parhiala, P., Ranta, K., Gergov, V., Kontunen, J., Law, R., La Greca, A. M., Torppa, M., & Marttunen, M. (2020). Interpersonal Counseling in the Treatment of Adolescent Depression : A Randomized Controlled Effectiveness and Feasibility Study in School Health and Welfare Services. School Mental Health, 12(2), 265-283. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-019-09346-w

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Parhiala, P.; Ranta, K.; Gergov, V.; Kontunen, J.; Law, R.; La Greca, A. M.; Torppa, M.; Marttunen, M.

Journal or series: School Mental Health

ISSN: 1866-2625

eISSN: 1866-2633

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 12

Issue number: 2

Pages range: 265-283

Publisher: Springer New York LLC

Publication country: United States

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-019-09346-w

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/66112


In order to offer early and accessible treatment for adolescents with depression, brief and effective treatments in adolescents’ everyday surroundings are needed. This randomized controlled trial studied the preliminary effectiveness, feasibility, and acceptability of interpersonal counseling (IPC) and brief psychosocial support (BPS) in school health and welfare services. The study was conducted in the 28 lower secondary schools of a large city in Southern Finland, randomized to provide either IPC or BPS. Help-seeking 12–16-year-old adolescents with mild-to-moderate depression, with and without comorbid anxiety, were included in the study. Fifty-five adolescents received either 6 weekly sessions of IPC or BPS and two follow-up sessions. Outcome measures included self- and clinician-rated measures of depression, global functioning, and psychological distress/well-being. To assess feasibility and acceptability of the treatments, adolescents’ and counselors’ treatment compliance and satisfaction with treatment were assessed. Both treatments were effective in reducing depressive disorders and improving adolescents’ overall functioning and well-being. At post-treatment, in both groups, over 50% of adolescents achieved recovery based on self-report and over 70% based on observer report. Effect sizes for change were medium or large in both groups at post-treatment and increased at 6-month follow-up. A trend indicating greater baseline symptom severity among adolescents treated in the IPC-providing schools was observed. Adolescents and counselors in both groups were satisfied with the treatment, and 89% of the adolescents completed the treatments and follow-ups. This trial suggests that both IPC and BPS are feasible, acceptable, and effective treatments for mild-to-moderate depression in the school setting. In addition, IPC seems effective even if comorbid anxiety exists. Our study shows that brief, structured interventions, such as IPC and BPS, are beneficial in treating mild-to-moderate depression in school settings and can be administered by professionals working at school.

Keywords: young people; depression (mental disorders); personal assistance; brief therapy; school health care

Free keywords: adolescents; depression; interpersonal counseling; brief treatment; school health and welfare services

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 14:31