Does cognitive behavioural therapy have a role in improving problem solving and coping in adolescents with suicidal ideation?

Sarah Hetrick, Hok Pan Yuen, Georgina Cox, Sarah Bendall, Alison Yung, Jane Pirkis, Jo Robinson

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Problem-solving and coping skills deficits have been shown in adolescents who experience suicide-related behaviours, including suicidal ideation. Little evidence exists about effective interventions for this population. We undertook a pilot study of an Internet-based CBT programme that included problem-solving skills training to investigate its impact on skills deficits. The study employed a pre-test/post-test design. Outcomes of interest were negative problem orientation, emotion- and task-focused coping, and adolescents' perception of helpfulness of the intervention. Participants, recruited via the school wellbeing team, were assessed at baseline, at weekly intervention sessions and immediately post-intervention. Twenty-one adolescents completed the intervention. Over the course of the intervention, negative problem-solving orientation improved and students relied less on emotion-focused coping strategies. Because there was no control group, we cannot be certain that the changes seen between baseline and post-intervention can be attributed to the intervention. Adolescents rated the problem-solving and cognitive restructuring modules as particularly helpful. Interventions that include enhancement of problem-solving skills, as well as cognitive restructuring to address adolescents' appraisal of problems and their ability to solve them appear promising for adolescents with suicidal ideation. Further investigation is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13
Number of pages15
JournalThe Cognitive Behaviour Therapist
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Internet
  • suicidal ideation

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