Commenced in January 2007
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What Do Young People Seeking Professional Help Want and Expect From Therapy?

Authors: Clare Watsford, Debra Rickwood


Client expectations and preferences about therapy represent an important area of investigation as research shows they are linked to engagement in therapy and therapy outcomes. Studies examining young people-s expectations and preferences of therapy remain a neglected area of research. The present study explored what expectations and preferences young people seeking professional help held regarding: their role as a client, their therapist-s role, their therapeutic outcomes, and the processes of therapy. Gender and age differences were also examined. Participants included 188 young people aged 12-25 who completed a survey while attending their initial session at a youth mental health service. Data were analysed using quantitative methods. Results found the young people held significantly more pessimistic expectations around therapy when compared to what they had wanted therapy to be like. Few age and gender differences were found. Results highlight the importance of a collaborative therapy approach when working with young people.

Keywords: Client expectations, mental health services, preferences, young people

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