Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counseling and Personnel

First Advisor

Dr. Edward L. Trembley

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Hopkins

Third Advisor

Dr. Chris Koronakos


In the present investigation, a group of mildly depressed adolescent inpatients was compared with a moderately to severely depressed sample on measures of self-concept and life events. The expected differences between the groups were hypothesized on the basis of current theoretical and clinical considerations emphasized in the literature. Previous research has implicated the magnitude of readjustment required by significant life experiences and self concept with depression.

Seventy-four subjects participated and were assigned to one of two groups by dichotomizing scores on the Beck Depression Inventory. The relationships of scores on the Tennessee Self Concept Scale, Life Event History, and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Depression Scale, to depth of depression were examined. An additional question addressed the effect of self-concept and life events combined in predicting later depression.

Subjects were drawn from consecutive admissions to a short-term inpatient adolescent unit in a Midwestern, private, nonprofit psychiatric hospital over a two-year period. Fifty female and 24 male subjects ranging in age from 13.3 years to 17.9 years participated in the study.

The moderately to severely depressed adolescents were significantly differentiated from the mildly depressed sample by a lower self-concept and higher MMPI-D scale score but no difference was found on the basis of life events. Life events combined with self-concept did not yield a greater predictive potential for depression than did self-concept alone.

The conclusions suggest that, as with adults, a crucial inverse relationship exists between self-concept and depth of depression in adolescents but cumulative life events are of no value in predicting subsequent depressive episodes. Consideration is given to the possibility that such events may be a factor in hospitalization regardless of diagnosis. Furthermore, self-concept may be a mediating variable as to whether an individual's inability to adapt to, or tolerate, life experiences ultimately leads to depressive symptoms.

Future studies should more explicitly define life events, the individual's support system, and include a disorder free sample. The effect of life experiences and family strengths may indicate that the support system, rather than self-concept, mediates the subsequent emergence of depression.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access