MARIA KOVACSUniversity of Pittsburgh, USA
Contextual Emotion Regulation Therapy (CERT): a developmentally based treatment for pediatric depression
This workshop briefly summarizes the developmental basis, background, and basic principles of Contextual Emotion Regulation Therapy (CERT) and then describes in detail its practical goals, approaches, and key treatment strategies. CERT is a new developmentally sensitive psychotherapy for pediatric depression that emphasizes skill acquisition; it requires in each session the participation of at least one parent and the depressed child. CERT focuses on helping the young patient to acquire the requisite skills for the adaptive regulation of sadness and dysphoria. That is, the patient learns (with the help of the parent) to manage feelings of sadness and distress so that these emotions do not get out of hand. Thereby, many depressive symptoms became far less disabling and those that remain are dealt with in a targeted fashion (for example, sleep disturbance can be managed via a sleep hygiene program). CERT uses a “sport analogy” to facilitate learning and to help in recovery, wherein the therapist is the coach, the parent is the “assistant coach,” and the child is the player. Thereby, CERT also provides the parent-child pair with a new framework for parent-child interactions. The workshop will review CERT’s basic intervention approaches and describe some of the tools that are used to facilitate the course of treatment. The workshop also will include role-playing with participants in order to illustrate the use of key CERT approaches.
Maria Kovacs is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She is an internationally recognized expert in childhood onset depression. With Aaron T. Beck and Arlene Weissman, Kovacs co-authored a study establishing a correlation between suicide and hopelessness. Some time later, Prof. Kovacs published the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI), which was largely based on the Beck Depression Inventory, used worldwide ever since. Her work has laid the foundation for much of the subsequent progress in mood disorders. Furthermore, Kovacs is a fellow of numerous professional organizations, including the Association for Psychological Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Psychological Association. She received the 2013 Paul Hoch Award from the American Psychopathological Association in recognition of her research into psychopathology. Prof. Kovacs has served on the advisory committees for both the third and fourth editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III and DSM-IV), which provides the standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders for the American Psychiatric Association.