Thursday, January 22, 2009

Catch-It (Competent Adulthood Transition with Cognitive-behavioral and Interpersonal Training)


The November issue of The Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry featured a research article describing an internet based intervention for adolescent depression. While the published results showed some improvement in subjects, I have a few criticisms of the self-help site.

My biggest complaint is that there is a lot of reading and uninterrupted text. The font is small, uniform, and there is a lack of eye-catching contrasting colours to captivate attention of reader. In particular, the paragraph highlighting time commitment and brief instruction/motivation could be set in bold or colour. The chapter menu for the fourteen modules was on the small side. It actually took me a few minutes to look at the associated text to discover, after a few misdirections, that that was the menu.

I did not go through all of the modules, but I did look at quite a few. The TRAP chapter was primarily focused on negative behaviours and repercussions with only a very small amount of space (three lines out of about seven pages) devoted to goal exercises. It wasn’t until the following chapter that alternative coping strategies as well as character example stories demonstrating how to combat negative habits was introduced. Even still, I thought, the chapter used too much negative language and still focused heavily on unhealthy aspects.

On the positive side, it had a lot of information regarding depression, different treatments, and coping strategies. The character examples were nicely varied to help those working through the exercises relate to common feelings and learn some language to help describe what they are going through. There was contact information for anyone who might need to get in touch with a doctor as well as links to other help networks (also posted below). The fun, frivolous internet links at the end of each module helped break up the monotony of the previous pages and were a nice reprieve, even though I didn’t use any of them, before heading on to the next chapter.

Overall, I think any resource is a positive thing to develop. This particular site is helpful for identifying, more than correcting, negative emotions and behaviours. However, it is a quite thorough information resource. For those who use it, especially in conjunction with other therapies for more difficult disorders, it may help, but I wouldn’t recommend it on its own. Hopefully, in the near future, the original design team will make improvements to the outstanding structure.

Youth Crisis Hotline
1-800-448-4663

1-800-SUICIDE
1-800-784-2433

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE

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