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Brief BA with depressed adolescents

Dr Laura Pass &

Professor Shirley Reynolds

On Demand one day workshop £80.00

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Pass & Reynolds Adolescent depression: Text
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Brief Behavioural Activation for
depressed adolescents

On Demand one day workshop £80.00


Almost 50% of young people who are offered conventional psychological treatment for depressed adolescents either do not attend or drop out prematurely.  It is therefore urgent that we develop treatment that young people will use. We adapted Behavioural Activation (BA) (Lejuez, et al., 2011) for young people, in collaboration with young people and their families.  Our aim was to make it brief (6-8 sessions), simple, engaging and effective. Brief BA (Pass & Reynolds, 2014) can be used in schools and clinics and delivered by a range of professionals, who do not require specialist qualifications or extensive training. 

Key elements of Brief BA for adolescents include:

*   A focus on engaging young people in BA

*    Scaffolding therapy based on developmental/cognitive constraints

*   Involvement of parents/carers

*   Focus on identifying young people’s values

*  Problem solving and contracting, with parental involvement

*   Session by session workbooks for young people and their parents

Brief BA involves 6-8 weekly sessions of up to 1 hour, and a 30 minute review session one month later. Brief BA is simple to explain, easy to understand and reasonably straightforward to incorporate into an adolescent’s life.  Our data show that engagement in treatment is excellent, that Brief BA is acceptable to young people, parents and school staff, and leads to reduced depression symptoms and improved functioning in most young people (Pass, Lejuez, & Reynolds, 2017; Pass et al., 2018). 

This workshop will demonstrate how Brief BA is used with adolescents who are experiencing clinically significant depressive symptoms.  It will focus particularly on how to engage young people in treatment, how to identify their values and link values to activities, and how to work with parents and young people as well as relevant others including school staff.  Case examples will be used to highlight specific challenges and techniques.   

Training modalities

This CBT workshop will be very practically based. Brief BA will be taught through instruction, group discussion, Q&A, modelling through case examples and video clips


As the end of the workshop participants will  

 - Understand how Brief BA draws on behavioural theory to treat depression in adolescents and be able to: 

 -  engage depressed young people and their parents or carers in brief Behavioural Activation

 - help young people to identify their values in three key areas - self, people that matter and things that matter

 - link young people’s values to activities and planning these in daily life

 -  deal with conflict and disagreement between young people and parents/carers

Who the workshop is for:

This CBT workshop would be suitable for clinicians who have experience of working with depressed young people in mental health or educational settings.  It would also be suitable for clinicians with experience of Behavioural Activation who would like to adapt it for use with young people. 


Treatment manual

Pass, L. & Reynolds, S. (2020).  Brief Behavioural Activation for Adolescent Depression: A treatment manual for clinicians.   Jessica Kingsley.

Key texts

Brett, S., Reynolds, S., Totman, J., & Pass, L. (2020). Brief behavioural activation therapy for adolescent depression in schools: two case examples. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 1-13.

Lewis-Smith, I., Pass, L., Jones, D., & Reynolds, S. (2021). "… if I care about stuff, then other people care about me". Adolescents’ experiences of helpful and unhelpful aspects of brief behavioural activation therapy for depression. Psychotherapy Research, 1-12.

Pass, L., Hodgson, E., Whitney, H., & Reynolds. S. (2017).   Brief Behavioural Activation treatment for depressed adolescents delivered by a non-specialist clinician.  Cognitive & Behavioural Practice. https://doi org/11.1016/cbpra.201705.003

Pass, L., Sancho, M., Brett, S., Jones, M., Reynolds, S. (2018).  Brief Behavioural Activation (Brief BA) in secondary schools: A feasibility study examining acceptability and practical considerations.  Education and Child Psychology, 35 (2)

Watson, R., Harvey, H., Pass, L., McCabe, C., & Reynolds, S. (2020). A Qualitative Study Exploring Adolescents’ Experience of Brief Behavioural Activation for Depression and its Impact on the Symptom of Anhedonia. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. https://doi:10.1111/papt.12307

Pass & Reynolds Adolescent depression: Text
Brief BA Book.jpeg

Brief Behavioural Activation for Adolescent Depression: Treatment manual for clinicians

Pass & Reynolds Adolescent depression: About

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