Program Targets Depression in Teens

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), September 5, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Program Targets Depression in Teens

Byline: Stefan Verbano The Register-Guard

Within the field of adolescent depression research, there is a stereotype that parents, feeling confused and powerless about how to help their distressed children, simply will drop them off at a therapist's office to get "fixed" and pray for positive results.

Lisa Sheeber, an Oregon Research Institute scientist studying adolescent depression and parenting techniques, is trying to break that cycle with an unusual family treatment program that gets parents into the therapist's office along with their children.

The program is part of a three-year ORI study - funded by a $400,000 National Institute of Mental Health grant - that has helped develop a series of new intervention programs for families that emphasize communication and understanding.

ORI is collaborating with Options Counseling, a Lane County-based not-for-profit mental health service, to offer families weekly therapy sessions focusing on reducing household conflicts stemming from depression in youth.

A big part of the program, Sheeber said, involves educating parents about new clinical practices.

"We try to make it so the parents are working with the most up-to-date information about adolescent development so they can make informed decisions," she said.

By being properly informed, parents can witness what types of disciplinary actions work best at a clinical level.

"Parents of depressed kids tend to be more protective and give (them) less autonomy," she said. "We think that this may undermine the child's developing sense of themselves as a capable person. These are totally normal parenting reactions, and yet they work against you.

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