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Creating a tool to help young people say how they'd like their therapy to be

A first-of-its-kind tool asking young people about what their preferences are in therapy, so we can improve their experience, making it more tailored to their individual needs.

Project overview

We really want to help young people improve their mental health. In England in 2022, around 1 in 5 children aged 7 to 16 years had a mental health issue.

Rates are higher in children and young people from marginalised groups, such as young people from ethnic minority backgrounds and people who identify as LGBTQ+. Their needs are not always met in therapy.

Therapy, such as counselling, can be really helpful for young people with mental health issues. By asking young people about what their preferences are in therapy, we can improve their experience, making it more tailored to their individual needs. This would hopefully increase the chances of the young people staying in therapy and getting the most out of it.

To do this, we will work with young people (aged 14-21) to create the first tool/questionnaire that can ask young people about how they’d like their therapy to be. We will make sure to include the preferences of young people from marginalised groups in the measure. This project will run for a year and a half starting in July 2024.

Project details

This research will develop the first ever measuring tool to reliably ask about young people’s preferences for therapy.

No other tool of this type currently exists. It will be suitable for use in counselling for schools, voluntary, and healthcare contexts.

The measure will provide a means by which counsellors, psychotherapists, and psychologists of all orientations, who work with young people, can tailor their practices more effectively to young people’s preferences.

The tool can also help us to understand how preferences for therapy might be different across groups, such as young people from different ethnic backgrounds, ages and social circumstances.

It will help future research to look at whether personalising therapy will improve it for young people.

We will be working with the McPin Young People’s Advisory Group on this project.

They will:

  • Shape the study from the beginning by advising the researchers on what they should be focusing on
  • Develop the list of items for the tool: to make sure that the key dimensions that are developed reflect young people’s concerns.
  • Ensure the tool is inclusive and sensitive to the needs of young people from marginalised groups
  • Finalise the tool so that all the questions ensure young people’s therapy preferences are heard
  • Trial the tool in a ‘mock interview’
  • Attend steering group meetings with other members of the team to provide your expertise and insight as a young person
  • Share the final version of the tool with the people that need to know about it the most: for instance, doctors, therapists, and schools. This could be done by presenting/attending conferences, writing blogs/social media posts, developing a manual to go alongside the tool – young people will have the opportunity to get involved in all of these if they want to.

Please email [email protected] if you would like to find out more information.

This project is funded by BACP.


Work with us

We are always excited to hear from others who want to collaborate on mental health research. From delivering peer research to helping you with public involvement strategies and providing training, get in touch to chat.