Adolescent Coping with Depression (CWD-A)


(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)


Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research

Adolescent Coping with Depression (CWD-A) is a cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) intervention that targets specific issues typically experienced by depressed adolescents, including discomfort and anxiety, irrational/negative thoughts, poor social skills, and limited experiences of pleasant activities. The program consists of 16 two-hour sessions that are conducted over an eight-week period for mixed-gender groups of up to 10 adolescents.

Core components of the program include the CBT model of change, mood monitoring, increasing pleasant activities (behavioral activation), social skills training, relaxation training, identification of negative thoughts and cognitive restructuring, communication and problem-solving training, and relapse prevention. Each participant receives a workbook that provides structured learning tasks, short quizzes, and homework forms. To encourage generalization of skills to everyday situations, adolescents are given homework assignments that are reviewed at the beginning of the subsequent session. The CWD-A course was originally adapted from the adult version of the Coping with Depression course.

CWD-A has been implemented with adolescents in more than 12 diverse settings, including urban and rural areas, schools, juvenile detention centers, and state correctional facilities. It is delivered by mental health professionals with appropriate training and experience (e.g., in the assessment and treatment of adolescent disorders) and who adequately prepare to deliver this specific intervention through study of program materials, training, and/or supervision. In some cases, non-clinicians can deliver the program under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional. See the archived NREPP listing and program dissemination website for additional details on implementation materials and training.

Designation as a “Program with Evidence of Effectiveness”

SPRC designated this intervention as a “program with evidence of effectiveness” based on its inclusion in SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). 

Outcome(s) Reviewed (Evidence Rating)*

  • Social Connectedness (Effective)
  • Depression and Depressive Symptoms (Promising)
  • Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors (Promising)
  • General Functioning and Well-being (Promising)
  • Disruptive Behavior Disorders and Externalizing/Antisocial Behaviors (Ineffective)
  • Internalizing Problems (Ineffective)

Read more about this program’s ratings.


* NREPP changed its review criteria in 2015. This program was reviewed under the post – 2015 criteria. To help practitioners find programs that fit their needs, NREPP reviewed the evidence for specific outcomes, not overall programs. Each outcome was assigned an evidence rating of Effective, Promising, or Ineffective. A single program may have multiple outcomes with different ratings. When considering programs, we recommend (a) assessing whether the specific outcomes achieved by the program are a fit for your needs; and (b) examining the strength of evidence for each outcome.

2012 NSSP Objectives Addressed: 

Objective 3.1: Promote effective programs and practices that increase protection from suicide risk.

Objective 8.3: Promote timely access to assessment, intervention, and effective care for individuals with a heightened risk for suicide.