Effectiveness of Providing Cognitive-behavioral Group Therapy for Both Children and their Parents Separately in the Treatment of Childhood Major Depressive Disorder: A Pilot Study

Author(s): Nermeen Nabil Fawzy

Background: Three social learning mechanisms were hypothesized to influence the development of depressogenic cognitive styles: modeling of parents’ negative cognitive styles; direct learning from negative parental inferential feedback regarding the stressful events in the child’s life; and indirect learning from negative parenting practices. In this study, I proposed an approach addressing psychopathology in parents as well as their children through providing cognitive behavioral therapy for both, separately, in treatment of childhood Major depressive disorder. This study’s objective is to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach.

Method: Cognitive behavioral group therapy was provided separately to seven children diagnosed with Major depressive disorder, and their parents in 12 weekly 1-hour sessions. Parents’ sessions were parallel to children sessions, focused on learning the same skills and techniques taught in the children’s groups, targeting modifying negative cognitive styles of parents as well as children. Psychiatric clinical interview by specialized child psychiatrists and Parent-rated Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (PMFQ) were used pre- and post-treatment to evaluate depressive symptoms.

Results: At the end of the treatment, all children no longer met criteria for major depressive disorder. There were statistically significant reductions in scores of parent-rated Mood and Feelings Questionnaire, which also demonstrated that none of the children no longer had a score indicative of depressive disorder.

Conclusion: This study suggested that providing cognitive behavioral group therapy for both children and their parents, separately, is an effective approach for childhood major depressive disorder treatment.

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