Brief Behavioural Activation (Brief BA) for adolescent depression: a pilot study

Laura Pass, Carl W. Lejuez, Shirley Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Depression in adolescence is a common and serious mental health problem. In the UK, access to evidence based psychological treatments is limited and training and employing therapists to deliver these is expensive. Brief Behavioral Activation for the Treatment of Depression (BATD) has great potential for use with adolescents and to be delivered by a range of healthcare professionals, but there is limited empirical investigation with this group. Aims: To adapt BATD for depressed adolescents (Brief BA) and conduct a pilot study to assess feasibility, acceptability and clinical effectiveness. Methods: Twenty depressed adolescents referred to the local NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health service (CAMHs) were offered 8 sessions of Brief BA followed by a review around one month later. Self- and parent- reported Routine Outcome Measures (ROMs) were collected at every session. Results: Nineteen of the 20 young people fully engaged with the treatment and all reported finding some aspect of Brief BA helpful. Thirteen (65 required no further psychological intervention following Brief BA, and both young people and parents reported high levels of acceptability and satisfaction with the approach. The pre-post effect size of Brief BA treatment was large. Conclusions: Brief BA is a promising innovation in the treatment of adolescent depression. This approach requires further evaluation to establish effectiveness and cost effectiveness compared with existing evidence-based treatments for adolescent depression. Other questions concern the effectiveness of delivery in other settings and when delivered by a range of professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-194
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number2
Early online date31 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

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