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The First Experimental Study of Transference work – In Teenagers (FEST-IT)

FEST-IT is a study of the effect of psychotherapy on depressed adolescents. It is the first study of its kind in Scandinavia and is a collaboration between UiO and Vestfold Hospital. 


Depression in adolescents seems to be a growing problem that causes mental suffering and prevents young people from joining the workforce. There is also a high risk of relapse during adult life. There is emerging evidence on the effect of psychodynamic psychotherapy for adolescents. In-session relational intervention (that is, transference intervention) is a key component of psychodynamic psychotherapy. However, whether depressed adolescents profit most from psychodynamic psychotherapy with or without transference interventions has not been investigated. 


To explore the effect of transference interventions for adolescents with a major depressive disorder and the potential moderator effects of quality of object relations, personality disorder and gender. We hope that the study will add more specific knowledge to the evidence base and contribute to the improvement of future treatments for this group. 

Methods and study design

FEST-IT is a randomized clinical trial with a dismantling design inspired by the FEST-study. One hundred patients aged 16 to 18 years will be randomized to one of two treatment groups. Both groups will be treated with general psychodynamic techniques over 28 weeks. One group will receive a moderate level of transference intervention and the other group no transference intervention. Follow-up will be 1 year after treatment termination. The outcome measures will be the Psychodynamic Functioning Scales (PFS), Inventory of Interpersonal Problems–Circumplex Version (IIP-C), Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF), and the total mean score of Symptom Checklist–90 (Global Severity Index; GSI), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Montgomery Åsberg Rating Scale (MADRS). The quality of adolescents’ relationships will be a central focus of the study, and the Adolescent Relationship Scales (ARS) and Differentiation–Relatedness Scale (DRS) will also be used. Change will be assessed using linear-mixed models. Gender, personality disorder (PD) and quality of object relations (QOR) will be the preselected potential moderators since these variables were found to have moderating effects for adults in the FEST-study.


Jones, Maria-Helene; Råbu, Marit; Røssberg, Jan Ivar & Ulberg, Randi (2020). Therapists´experiences of psychodynamic therapy with and without transference interventions for adolescents with depression. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  ISSN 1661-7827. . doi:

Løvgren, André; Røssberg, Jan Ivar; Engebretsen, Eivind & Ulberg, Randi (2020). Improvement in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Depression: A Qualitative Study of the Patients’ Perspective. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. ISSN 1661-7827.  17(18) . doi: 10.3390/ijerph17186843

Løvgren, A., Røssberg, J. I., Nilsen, L., Engebretsen, E., & Ulberg, R. (2019). How do adolescents with depression experience improvement in psychodynamic psychotherapy? A qualitative study. BMC psychiatry, 19(1), 95.

Ness, E., Dahl, H. S. J., Critchfield, K. L., & Ulberg, R. (2018). Exploring In-Session Process with Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Psychotherapy with an Adolescent. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 17(4), 310-327.

Ness, E., Dahl, H. S. J., Tallberg, P., Amlo, S., Høglend, P., Thorén, A., ... & Ulberg, R. (2018). Assessment of dynamic change in psychotherapy with asdolescents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 12(1), 39.

Ulberg, Randi; Falkenberg, Anette Aardal; Nærdal, Taran Buran; Johannessen, Heidi; Olsen, Janne Elisabeth; Klokseth Eide, Trine; Hersoug, Anne Grete & Dahl, Hanne Sofie (2013). Countertransference feelings when treating teenagers. A psychometric evaluation of the Feeling Word Checklist-24. American Journal of Psychotherapy. 67(4), s 347- 358.

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Hersoug, Anne Grete & Ulberg, Randi (2013). Å bli forstått - og forstå seg selv: om utvikling av allianse i ungdomsterapi. Mellanrummet. 29, s 31- 38.

Hersoug AG, Ulberg R (2012). Siblings, friends, and parents: Who are the most important persons for adolescents? A pilot study of Adolescent Relationship Scale. Nordic Psychology 64, 77-86.

Ulberg R, Hersoug AG, Høglend P (2012).Treatment of adolescents with depression: the effect of transference interventions in a randomized controlled study of dynamic psychotherapy. Trials 13:159.  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-13-159

Ulberg, R. & Hersoug, A.G. (2011). Bruk av overføringstolkninger i forandringens tid mellom barndom og voksen alder. Mellanrummet 24, 27-33.

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PhD: Ness, Elisabeth, Measuring psychodynamic process and change in psychotherapy, 2019.

Published Nov. 2, 2015 2:26 PM - Last modified Oct. 22, 2020 3:01 PM


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Detailed list of participants