The Evidence Portal

CERTIFY - Cognitive Emotion Regulation Training Intended for Youth

About the program

CERTIFY is a school-based intervention program that introduces the notion of CER (Cognitive Emotion Regulation) to adolescents and explains that there are adaptive and maladaptive strategies of regulating one’s emotions. CERTIFY aims to reduce maladaptive strategies (i.e., risk factors), while promoting adaptive strategies (i.e., protective factors) in CER.

CERTIFY comprises 11 sessions. During the introductory session, students are introduced to the concept of CER, as well as the different cognitive strategies that can be used to regulate one’s emotions. The concluding session serves as a review period of all the strategies learned over the course of the intervention. The remaining sessions each focus on one of nine CER strategies, five adaptive strategies (i.e., acceptance, positive refocusing, positive reappraisal, putting into perspective, and refocusing on planning) and four maladaptive strategies (i.e., rumination, catastrophizing, self-blame, and other blame).

Who does it work for?

This program was designed for students aged 12-17 and considered at-risk of school failure.

CERTIFY has only be evaluated in the USA. A randomized control trial (Claro, Boulanger & Shaw 2015) was conducted with 41 people (28 in the intervention group and 13 in the control group). Over 75% of the total sample were white, with the intervention group mostly male (82%) and just under half the control group male (46%). Intervention students were an average of 13.9 years old and control students were slightly older at an average of 14 years old. Students selected for the study were considered at-risk of school failure.

CERTIFY has not been evaluated in Australia or with Aboriginal Australians.

What outcomes does it contribute to?

Positive outcomes:

  • CERTIFY students were more likely to be able to refocus on planning.
  • CERTIFY students were more likely to use positive reappraisal skills following intervention.

No effect:

  • The program had no effect on catastrophizing (assuming the worst will happen)
  • The program had no effect on rumination (continuously thinking about the same thoughts, which tend to be sad or dark)
  • The program had no effect on tendency to self-blame.
  • The program had no effect on students’ putting things into perspective.
  • The program had no effect on the students’ practicing positive refocusing.
  • The program had no effect on students’ capacity for acceptance.
  • The program had no effect on students’ tendencies to blame other things.

How effective is it?

Overall, the program had a mixed effect on client outcomes.

How strong is the evidence?

Mixed research evidence:

  • At least one high-quality randomised controlled trial (RCT)/quasi-experimental design (QED) study reports statistically significant positive effects for at least one outcome, AND
  • An equal number or more RCT/QED studies of similar size and quality show no observed effects than show statistically significant positive effects, AND
  • No RCT/QED studies show statistically significant adverse effects.

How is it implemented?

Eleven sessions of the CERTIFY program are delivered over the course of two weeks, including an introduction and conclusion session. Each session lasts for around 45 minutes, during which students are excused from their regular class programming. CERTIFY is delivered in-person in school settings to small groups of 6-8 students.

How much does it cost?

The program costs for CERTIFY were not reported in the study.

What else should I consider?

Measurement and evaluation of the administration of CERTIFY may help to ensure program fidelity.

Where does the evidence come from?

1 RCT conducted in the USA with a sample of 41 people (Claro, Boulanger & Shaw, 2015).

Further resources

Claro, A, Boulanger, MM, & Shaw, SR 2015, ‘Targeting vulnerabilities to risky behavior: An intervention for promoting adaptive emotion regulation in adolescents’, Contemporary School Psychology, vol. 19, pp. 330-339,

The following studies are particularly relevant to the program:

Aldao, A., Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Schweizer, S. (2010). Emotion regulation strategies across psychopathology: a meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 217–237,

Garnefski, N, & Kraaij, V 2014, ‘Bully victimization and emotional problems in adolescents: moderation by specific cognitive coping strategies?’, Journal of Adolescence, vol. 37, pp. 1153–1160,

Garnefski, N, Kraaij, V, & Spinhoven, P 2001, ‘Negative life events, cognitive emotion regulation and emotional problems.’ Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 30, pp. 1311–1327,

Garnefski, N, Kraaij, V, & van Etten, M 2005, ‘Specificity of relations between adolescents’ cognitive emotion regulation strategies and internalizing and externalizing psychopathology’, Journal of Adolescence, vol. 28, pp. 619–631,

Last updated:

09 Dec 2022

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