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The goals of young people in school-based counselling and their achievement of these goals

Rupani, Pooja and Cooper, Mick and McArthur, Katherine and Pybis, Joanne and Cromarty, Karen and Hill, Andy and Levesley, Ruth and Murdoch, Jamie and Turner, Nick (2014) The goals of young people in school-based counselling and their achievement of these goals. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 14 (4). pp. 306-314. ISSN 1473-3145

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Background: Levels of goal agreement between therapists and adult clients have been shown to relate to therapeutic outcomes. Understanding clients' goals for therapy, therefore, is an important area of study. Aims: The purpose of this study was to investigate the therapeutic goals that young people have in school-based counselling, and the extent to which different types of goals are achieved. Method: The study is a post-hoc analysis of data collected from two pilot randomised controlled trials (RCT) using the Goal Based Outcome (GBO) tool, in which 73 participants were allocated to either a counselling group or a waitlist control group. Thematic analysis was used to identify the main types of goals young people had; with descriptive quantitative analysis to identify the prevalence of these goals, and multi-level analysis to identify whether some goals were attained to a greater extent than others. Results: The most frequent type of goals identified by young people related to increasing self-confidence and self-acceptance, followed by controlling or reducing anger, improving relationships with family, and increasing feelings of happiness. No significant relationship was found between the type of goal and the extent to which they were attained in counselling. Conclusion: Young people in counselling are particularly concerned with improving their self-confidence, and this suggests a somewhat different focus to the counselling work than that which emerges from counsellors' reports of presenting and predominant issues. This suggests that school-based counsellors should be mindful of clients' particular therapeutic goals.