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Teaching Kids to Cope (TKC)

Teaching Kids to Cope (TKC) is a 10-session group intervention designed to reduce depression and stress by enhancing the coping skills among high school adolescents and young adults displaying depression symptoms. Each session lasts 45 minutes. Participants are guided through a process to discover their distorted thinking patterns and to test their thinking against reality using suggested approaches. They also explore and practice problem identification, alternate ways of viewing a situation, and alternate ways of reacting. 

The TKC program focuses on behavioral techniques but also incorporates cognitive components. The behavioral techniques aim to improve coping skills, which include activity planning, social skills training, assertiveness training, bibliotherapy, role-playing, conflict resolution, and relaxation training. 

The TKC incorporates experiential exercises such as trust-fall, buddy assignments, and role-playing situations from school and home. Art is incorporated into the sessions through drawing exercises. The cognitive components employ techniques such as externalization of negative voices, reframing, and cognitive rehearsal.

To improve access to the treatment for high school students seeking help, this intervention is offered during regular school days. Eligible students should score in the mid-range (at least 60) on the Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale (RADS). The intervention is implemented by a psychiatric nurse in collaboration with the school nurse or guidance counselor.

Studies were conducted in high schools, and a Jordanian study was conducted of college young adults. The outcomes for the evaluation of TKC demonstrated the following significant program effects, comparing the intervention to the control group: a short-term decrease in depressive symptoms and stress levels and a decrease in depressive symptoms for female intervention participants. 

The significant risk and protective factors included an increase in the use of beneficial coping strategies, seeking social support, planful problem-solving, positive reappraisal and a decrease in avoidance coping behavior. 

TKC received the Blueprints Promising Program designation in September 2015.

Read the Program Fact Sheet

Return to Blueprints Bulletin Issue 4. November 2017.


Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development
University of Colorado Boulder
Institute of Behavioral Science
UCB 483, Boulder, CO 80309


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Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development is
currently funded by Arnold Ventures (formerly the Laura and John Arnold Foundation) and historically has received funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.