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Exploring Behavioural Activation as a treatment for low mood within CAMHS: an IPA study of adolescent experiences

Shenton, Naomi, Redmond, Tomos, Kroll, Leo and Parry, Sarah ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5666-1997 (2021) Exploring Behavioural Activation as a treatment for low mood within CAMHS: an IPA study of adolescent experiences. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 26 (4). pp. 1153-1169. ISSN 1359-1045

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Abstract

Background Low mood is the most commonly diagnosed mental health condition affecting adolescents, and remains complex to treat due to multi-systemic risk and maintaining factors. Behavioural Activation (BA) is a brief therapy demonstrating promising treatment outcomes, although limited qualitative accounts exist of how they experience this. Objective This is one of the first studies undertaken in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to explore the perspectives of young people with low mood who have received BA therapy. Method Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was conducted from one-to-one interviews with nine adolescents who received BA; generating an idiographic account of their experiences. Results Three superordinate themes emerged: how the format of BA can promote the integration of coping skills into one’s life; how interpersonal connections and therapeutic relationships may improve intervention outcomes; and how BA principles could be internalised as part of a young person’s day-to-day life. Participants valued the structure and flexibility of the manualised approach, forming an alliance with the therapist, and enhancing interpersonal relationships. Conclusions This study details how BA can enhance resiliency skills for young people experiencing low mood, and illustrates some of the change process at inter- and intrapersonal levels; which should guide further youth-led research.

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