Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents (IPT-A)

IPT for Adolescents is designed for use with young people aged about 12-18 years who have an acute onset major depression. The three primary goals are: (1) to decrease the depressive symptoms; (2) to improve the interpersonal problems associated with the onset of the depressive episode; and (3) to help clients strengthen their social support networks.

In order to address the developmental issues of adolescents IPT for Adolescents differs from IPT in a number of ways including:

  • It is often briefer
  • It may involve parents or care givers
  • In addition to the three problem areas of Grief and Loss, Interpersonal Disputes and Role
  • Transition, IPT for Adolescents includes a fourth problem area of Interpersonal Gaps.

The collaborative and educational nature of IPT is developmentally engaging for many adolescents. These aspects are emphasised by developing clients’ emotional and relationship literacy, increasing their understanding of depression, enhancing their social skills, and by developing their ability to communicate their attachment needs to others.

Last reviewed: 2023

Intended Outcomes:

  • Decreased depressive symptoms
  • Improved interpersonal problems associated with the onset of the depressive episode
  • Stronger social support networks

Continuum of Care:

Topic Areas:
Behavioral Health/Mental Health, Depression

Teen/Adolescent (13-18)

Geographic Locations:
Rural, Urban

Delivery Settings:

Cultural Considerations:
Significant and well-articulated attention was given to disparities in outcomes

Depressed adolescents ages 12-18

Master's or doctoral degree in clinical or counseling psychology, or Master's in social work


Is Training Required?
Yes, see developer info

Who can provide the required training?
Individuals who have obtained IPT Instructor Training and are certified to provide trainings

Program Costs (materials, training, etc.):
Yes, refer to program website

Program/Practice Website:

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research:

O’Shea, G., Spence, S. H., & Donovan, C. L. (2015). Group versus individual Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 43(1), 1-19.

Reyes-Portillo, J., McGlinchey, E. L., Yanes-Lukin, P., Turner, J. B., & Mufson, L. (2017). Mediators of interpersonal psychotherapy for depressed adolescents on outcomes in Latinos: The role of peer and family interpersonal functioning. Journal of Latinx Psychology, 5(4), 248-260.

Spiro-Levitt, C., Gallop, R., & Young, J. F. (2019). Trajectories of change in maternal and adolescent depressive symptoms in the depression prevention initiative. Journal of Affective Disorders, 253, 176–183.

Young, J. F., Benas, J. S., Schueler, C. M., Gallop, R., Gillham, J. E., & Mufson, L. (2016). A randomized depression prevention trial comparing interpersonal psychotherapy—Adolescent skills training to group counseling in schools. Prevention Science, 17(3), 314-324.

Young, J. F., Jones, J. D., Sbrilli, M. D., Benas, J. S., Spiro, C. N., Haimm, C. A., Gallop, R., Mufson, L., & Gillham, J. E. (2019). Long-term effects from a school-based trial comparing Interpersonal Psychotherapy-Adolescent Skills Training to group counseling. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 48(sup1), S362-S370.

Tanofsky-Kraff, M., Shomaker, L. B., Wilfley, D. E., Young, J. F., Sbrocco, T., Stephens, M., Brady, S. M., Galescu, O., Demidowich, A., Olsen, C. H., Kozlosky, M., Reynolds, J. C., & Yanovski, J. A. (2017). Excess weight gain prevention in adolescents: Three-year outcome following a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(3), 218-227.

Toth, S. L., Handley, E. D., Manly, J. T., Sturm, R., Adams, T. R., Demeusy, E. M., & Cicchetti, D. (2020). The moderating role of child maltreatment in treatment efficacy for adolescent depression. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 48(10), 1351–1365.

Additional Sources:

Promising rating

WV Rating:
»WV Ratings Info

Rationale for Rating:

Upon reviewing the program, raters identified IPT-A as promising. The preponderance of research of evidence is positive but empirical evidence is mixed. Various studies showed effective initial response to IPT-A; however, upon follow-up effectiveness decreased.

Other Registries/Ratings

The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare:
Promising Research Evidence

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development:

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness:
Not On Registry

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Model Programs Guide:
Not On Registry

Washington State Institute for Public Policy:
Not On Registry