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About This Program

Target Population: 9 to 14-year olds who are depressed.

For children/adolescents ages: 9 – 14

Brief Description

ACTION is a developmentally sensitive group treatment program for depressed youth that follows a structured therapist's manual and workbook. Each of the 20 group and 2 individual meetings lasts approximately 60 minutes. The child treatment is designed to be fun and engaging while teaching the youngsters a variety of skills and therapeutic concepts that are applied to their depressive symptoms, interpersonal difficulties, and other stressors. Skills are taught to the children through didactic presentations and experiential activities. The skills are rehearsed during in-session activities and are applied through therapeutic homework. Skills application is monitored and recorded through completion of workbook activities, and completion of the therapeutic homework is encouraged through an in-session reward system. In general, the first nine sessions focus primarily on affective education and teaching coping and problem-solving skills. Sessions 10–19 focus primarily on learning and applying cognitive restructuring as well as continued use of previously learned strategies. Beginning with the 11th meeting and continuing through the 20th meeting, children work to improve their sense of self.

Program Goals:

The goals of ACTION are:

  • Children participants will:
    • Learn five core coping skills and be able to independently apply the skills to improve their moods and maintain a pleasant mood
    • Learn a five-step problem solving strategy and apply it to stressors in their everyday life
    • Be able to identify their own depressive thoughts
    • Learn three cognitive restructuring strategies and be able to independently apply the strategies to their depressive thinking
    • Build a positive core belief that will replace existing depressive core beliefs
    • Understand and apply the principles that:
      • When you feel bad and you can change the situation, use problem solving.
      • When you feel bad and you can’t change the situation, use coping skills.
      • When you feel bad and it is due to negative thoughts, change your thinking.

Contact Information

Kevin D. Stark, PhD
Agency/Affiliation: University of Texas, Dell Children’s Medical Center
Phone: (512) 471-4407

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: June 2017

Last CEBC Contact Date: February 2017

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: June 2015

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: September 2010