Development of a family-based program to reduce risk and promote resilience among families affected by maternal depression: Theoretical basis and program description

Anne W. Riley, Carmen R. Valdez, Sandra Barrueco, Carrie Mills, William Beardslee, Irwin Sandler, Purva Rawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Scopus citations


Depression is a family matter. It not only diminishes the quality-of-life of the depressed person, but also strains the resources of the family unit and increases the children's risk of developing significant problems that start early and persist into adulthood. Although treatment of a parent's depression is critical, many families also need professional intervention to reduce children's risk. This article reviews the evidence on needs of these families and shows that the theoretical and clinical evidence exists to support the design of interventions for families affected by maternal depression. A preventive intervention developed from this foundation is described, the Keeping Families Strong (KFS) program, that is designed to promote resilience and reduce the risk for psychological disorders in children of parents with depression. The pilot study on the KFS program, conducted in adult mental health outpatient settings, is described. Families participate in 10 meetings 90 min each, with a group for parents and for children (10 years and older) conducted concurrently. The program structure and content are described, the challenges of implementing a family preventive intervention in actual clinical settings are discussed, and a case example is provided, as well as preliminary outcome data on ten families. In sum, we provide a strong rationale for the potential of preventive interventions for families affected by maternal depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-29
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008



  • Child mental health problems
  • Family intervention
  • Maternal depression
  • Parental depression
  • Prevention
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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