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Interpersonal Psychotherapy - Adolescent Skills Training

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

An 8-week in-school program designed to reduce and prevent depressive symptoms in adolescents by improving communication skills and interpersonal relationships.

Program Outcomes

  • Depression
  • Physical Health and Well-Being

Program Type

  • Counseling and Social Work
  • School - Individual Strategies
  • Skills Training

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Selective Prevention (Elevated Risk)


  • Early Adolescence (12-14) - Middle School
  • Late Adolescence (15-18) - High School


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Promising

Program Information Contact

Jami Young, Ph.D.
Dept. of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
2716 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(267) 425-1328

Program Developer/Owner

  • Jami Young
  • The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Brief Description of the Program

Interpersonal Psychotherapy – Adolescent Skills Training (IPT-AST) is a manualized program delivered by mental health clinicians at school. The program aims to decrease depressive symptoms by helping adolescents improve their relationships and interpersonal interactions. The group teaches adolescents communication strategies and interpersonal problem-solving skills that they can apply to their relationships. The program includes two individual pre-group sessions followed by eight group sessions with 3-7 adolescents per group. It may also include a mid-program session that parents are allowed to attend and four individual booster sessions in the months following the group sessions.

See: Full Description


Young et al. (2006, 2016) found that, compared to the active control group, participants in the intervention group showed significantly greater rate of improvements in:

  • Depressive symptoms
  • Overall functioning

Young et al. (2010) found that adolescents in the intervention condition showed significantly greater rates of change from baseline to immediate posttest than control adolescents on:

  • two measures of depression
  • one measure of overall functioning
  • intervention effects were not sustained by the 12-month follow-up

In Horowitz et al. (2007), compared to the control group, participants in the intervention group showed significant reductions in posttest:

  • Depressive symptoms

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • Family: Family conflict/violence
Protective Factors
  • Individual: Problem solving skills, Skills for social interaction

See also: Interpersonal Psychotherapy - Adolescent Skills Training Logic Model (PDF)

Training and Technical Assistance

IPT-AST training for leaders occurs as an in-person 1.5- to 2-day seminar which includes didactics, practice of core techniques, and feedback on practice. Prior to the training, leaders are expected to read the manual. Leaders receive weekly supervision on individual (pre-group, mid-group, booster) and group sessions. The supervisor listens to audio recordings of a certain number of sessions prior to supervision to guide consultation and to rate fidelity, including session checklists, materials needed for each session, and example scripts.

NOTE: The ability of this purveyor to provide training and technical assistance may be limited.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

Study 1 (Young et al., 2016) compared the effects of the program with typical group counseling done by school counselors on the rates of change in depression symptoms. The authors randomized 186 adolescents from 10 schools with elevated symptoms of depression, then collected data at baseline, mid-intervention, posttest, and 6-month follow-up.

Study 2 (Young et al., 2006) examined 41 adolescents with moderate levels of depression symptoms in three Catholic schools. The study randomized the subjects into a program intervention group and a school counseling control group. Measures of depression symptoms, depression diagnosis, and overall functioning were obtained at posttest and 3-month and 6-month follow-ups.

Study 3 (Young et al., 2010) compared the effectiveness of IPT-AST to a treatment as usual condition for reducing adolescent depression. A total of 57 students in grades 9 and 10 from 3 single-sex high schools were randomly assigned to the intervention (n=36) and control (n=21) conditions. Data were gathered at baseline, immediate posttest, and 6-month, 12-month and 18-month follow-ups.

Study 4 (Horowitz et al., 2007) compared two prevention programs, IPT-AST and a cognitive-behavioral (CB) program, with a general high school wellness curriculum. Participants in this randomized control trial came from three suburban/rural high schools serving predominantly working- to middle-class communities. Two cohorts were recruited – one in January 2004 and one in August 2004. A total of 600 students enrolled in their schools’ wellness classes were initially recruited, of which 380 (63%) consented. The participating students were randomly assigned to receive IPT-AST (N=99), an alternative cognitive-behavioral prevention program (N=112), or the school's typical wellness program, which served as a control group (N=169). Data were collected at baseline, posttest, and 6-month follow-up, with nearly 99% (N=375) retained at posttest and 83% (N=314) retained at follow-up.