Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Depressed Adolescents


Harborside Center

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for adolescents and children with Major Depressive Disorder promotes mental health for prevention of physical and emotional repercussions that arise is MDD is left untreated.

Brief Program Description

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective intervention for treating a multitude of psychiatric disorders. Through delivery with a multidisciplinary team that emphasizes the supportive role of the PMH-APN, CBT can be used as an effective way to improve resilience and health promotion in adolescents diagnosed with depression.


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a prevalent condition found in American youth that can cause suicidal ideation and suicide. Twenty percent of American youths experience periods of depression before turning 18, and if left untreated, negative implications, such as increased rates of substance abuse and co-morbid health conditions, may occur (Lagges & Dunn, 2003; Asarnow et al., 2005). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach empirically demonstrated as a highly effective intervention to treat adolescent depression (Butler, Chapman, Forman, & Beck, 2006). The purpose of this paper is to (1) describe CBT in treating depressed adolescents, (2) demonstrate the role of the psychiatric mental health advanced practice nurse in using CBT, and (3) illustrate the efficacy of CBT by presenting an adolescent case study involving MDD.

According to the World Health Organization, depression is not only a national problem in the United States, but also a global problem that affects close to 121 million people worldwide; however, less than one quarter of those individuals actually receive proper treatment (WHO, 2011b). Approximately 20% of youths in America have suffered from depression before the age of 18, and the prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD) among adolescents is estimated at 4%–8% (Lagges & Dunn, 2003). Because the typical episode of MDD lasts between 6 to 7 months, and 90% of adolescents remitting within 2 years, MDD can be very debilitating (Lagges & Dunn, 2003).

Mood disorders in adolescents and children have repercussions that extend beyond psychiatric complications. For example, mood disorders, such as MDD, can result in increased morbidity and mortality largely related to increased risks of developing medical conditions such as asthma and obesity (Substance Abuse, 2008). Moreover, other effects such as associated mood disorder, disturbances to family and social life, and a greater prevalence of participation in risky behaviors negatively influence a young person’s quality of life (Sayal, 2006).


CBT is an effective intervention in adolescent depression, as in Butler, Chapman, Forman, & Beck, 2006. CBT proposes that a depressed individual perceives three areas with predominantly unrealistic, negative assessments: self, world, and future (Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979). The psychiatric-mental health advanced practice nurse (PMH-APN) is a clinician who can apply the principles of CBT among the depressed adolescent population, as in Solomon’s (2013) Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity.


Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Kathy Puskar, DrPH, RN, FAAN

Dr. Puskar's behavioral health research interests examine stress, coping, substance use, depression, and medication adherence in adolescent and young adult populations.

She is currently the project director of a study funded by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Interprofessional Collaborative Practice (IPCP): Targeting Substance Use in Rural Populations. She was also project director of a (HRSA) funded grant on Addictions Training for Nurses Using Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). The Addictions Training Manual is available for distribution. Her past research on adolescence includes principal investigator for the grant NIH NINR RO1 NR03616 Intervention To Promote Mental Health in Rural Youth and principal investigator for the grant, NIH NINR R01 NR008440 Anger Assessment and Intervention in Rural Youth. Her behavioral intervention Teaching Kids to Cope was accepted for inclusion in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). She has had funding from Staunton Farm Foundation to study Adolescent Coping and from the Eli Lilly Company for Medication Adherence in Young Adults with Schizophrenia Using Relational Agent Technology. She is a past recipient of the Pennsylvania Nightingale Award for Research and the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Research Award.

Dr. Puskar is the Past President of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and a Fellow of the National Academies of Practice. She has served as a reviewer for NIMH grants and was a past member of the University of Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board (IRB). She is a national consultant to inpatient and outpatient behavioral health programs.

Marilyn Davies, PhD, RN

Dr. Davies' primary research interest relates to the design, development, and field testing of health technology tools that identify risk for obesity in preschoolers who attend community-based health centers and the provision of age-appropriate health information to their parents/guardians that offers suggestions for the management of emergent obesity risk factors. A primary goal is to increase provider awareness that anticipatory obesity risk assessment and prevention efforts can be started well before children cross the threshold of obesity.

She is a member of an advisory board to Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. She is an active member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society, and a member of the International Society of Nurses in Genetics. Her teaching includes Research for Evidence-Based Practice, Manuscript Development, and Public Policy in Health Care.

Keyword Descriptors

depression, adolescent, prevention, therapy, cognitive, cbt

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-8-2016 4:00 PM

End Date

3-8-2016 5:30 PM

This document is currently not available here.


Mar 8th, 4:00 PM Mar 8th, 5:30 PM

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Depressed Adolescents

Harborside Center

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective intervention for treating a multitude of psychiatric disorders. Through delivery with a multidisciplinary team that emphasizes the supportive role of the PMH-APN, CBT can be used as an effective way to improve resilience and health promotion in adolescents diagnosed with depression.