An initial examination of interpersonal family therapy for children with depression and/or anxiety



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Texas Tech University


The present study evaluated the effectiveness of Interpersonal Family Therapy with two pre-adolescent children (aged 8 to 9 years) using a replicated, single-subject time series design. One participant reported elevated symptoms of depression and average symptoms of anxiety at pre-treatment while the second participant met DSM-IV (APA, 1994) diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Prior to treatment, and at two-month intervals throughout treatment, participants and their families completed measures designed to assess psychological symptomatology, cognitive functioning, interpersonal functioning, adaptive behavior, and family functioning. Participants and their families also completed idiographic measures semi-weekly prior to, during, and following treatment. Bi-monthly measures were completed throughout treatment and 2, 4, and 6 months post-treatment.

Clinically reliable change was observed post-treatment on child-rated nomothetic measures of depression, anxiety, and competence for both participants. Parent-rated measures also exhibited clinically reliable change for some measures of child and parent symptoms. Two IFT components, the Cognitive Functioning Component and the Family Functioning Component appeared to exert positive effects on measures assessing their targeted construct. The Cognitive Functioning Component and the Interpersonal Functioning Component, moreover, appeared to exert positive effects on constructs not targeted by the components, respectively. A few measures, either in a lagged or concurrent relationship, predicted symptom scores for both participants. Specifically, for one participant, family issues predicted child generalized anxiety, as rated by both the participant and his grandmother. For the second participant, ratings of social skills and thinking errors were important predictors of child anxiety. Results have implications for treatment and treatment outcome research