Psychological change in distressed young people who do not receive counselling: does improvement happen anyway?

Akvile Daniunaite, Zenib Ahmad, Mick Cooper

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The purpose of this study was to explore self-healing processes in young people, and to develop an understanding of the effects of school-based counselling (SBC), by analysing changes in a group of young people who were similar to those attending SBC but who did not participate in this intervention. Semi-structured interviews, based on an adaptation of Elliott’s Change Interview, were conducted with 14 young people who were on a waiting list for SBC as part of a randomised controlled trial.
Participants experienced positive improvements in several domains, with change attributed to three main causes: their own actions, the support they received from family and friends, and the effects of the research.
The results suggest that young people have a natural capacity to self-heal, and that some of the changes associated with SBC may be due to this self-righting process. Supporting this natural capacity may be an important element of therapeutic work with young people.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Guidance and Counselling
Early online date10 Sep 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • school counselling
  • adolescent psychotherapy
  • placebo
  • self-healing
  • psychological change
  • distressed young people
  • counselling

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