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Behav Modif. 2012 Jul;36(4):545-57. doi: 10.1177/0145445512445610. Epub 2012 Jun 20.

Social skills training for depression and comparative efficacy research: a 30-year retrospective.

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  • 1Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 3535 Market St., Suite 670, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


By the late 1970s it was clear that cognitive and behavioral therapies were promising alternatives to antidepressant medications for treatment of depressed outpatients. One such model of therapy, Social Skills Training, was developed by Michel Hersen and his colleagues specifically for treatment of depressed women. Professor Hersen and his colleagues obtained funding from the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct the first well-controlled randomized trial of this intervention, contrasting Social Skills Training, in combination with either placebo or active amitriptyline, against two active standards: amitriptyline alone and time-limited, psychodynamic psychotherapy in combination with placebo. The results of this study suggested that Social Skills Training (plus placebo) was at least as effective as amitriptyline alone or psychodynamic psychotherapy (plus placebo), with superior mode-specific effects on measures of social skill. The current narrative, which provides an autobiographical perspective of four critical years (1980-1984) in the early career of the author that were intertwined with the conduct and completion of this clinical trial, is an homage to Professor Hersen's talents as a supervisor, researcher, and mentor.

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