Effects of Psychotherapy for Depression in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-Analysis
Serious sequelae of youth depression, plus recent concerns over medication safety, prompt growing interest in the effects of youth psychotherapy. In previous meta-analyses, effect sizes (ESs) have averaged .99, well above conventional standards for a large effect and well above mean ES for other conditions. The authors applied rigorous analytic methods to the largest study sample to date and found a mean ES of .34, not superior but significantly inferior to mean ES for other conditions. Cognitive treatments (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy) fared no better than noncognitive approaches. Effects showed both generality (anxiety was reduced) and specificity (externalizing problems were not), plus short- but not long-term holding power. Youth depression treatments appear to produce effects that are significant but modest in their strength, breadth, and durability.