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Revisiting 'What works for whom?' A qualitative framework for evaluating clinical effectiveness in child psychotherapy

By Cathy Urwin


This paper describes a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of child psychotherapy used by child psychotherapists in an inner city Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). The Hopes and Expectations for Treatment Approach (HETA) involves using the assessment for psychotherapy that normally precedes treatment to derive a baseline from which to generate a set of hopes/expectations as regards the effects of the treatment on the part of parents and the psychotherapist, to be revisited one year after the start of the psychotherapy and/or at its completion. The Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire, for parents and schools, was also administered before and after the treatment. The characteristics of the first 30 children referred for psychotherapy over a particular time period are described. Of the first 15 children in this group to complete one year of individual psychotherapy, all showed change or significant change in the areas concerning parents' and therapists' hopes at the end-of-year review, as rated by parents and psychotherapists. A case of a child with conduct disorder is used to describe how the assessment generated a psychoanalytic formulation, how the therapist's understanding was fed back to the parents, and how the parents' and therapist's hopes and expectations were derived and recorded. This case illustrates powerfully the impact of trauma in the parents' backgrounds on the internal world of the child, and how the method provides a useful bridge between parent and child work. Feedback from the psychotherapists, the parents and the referrers using the framework is reviewed, and in conclusion the paper argues for the framework's value in promoting good practice in the treatment and management of complex cases and in enhancing awareness of the nature and scope of the psychotherapy process. \u

Topics: Child Psychotherapy
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1080/00754170701431370
OAI identifier:

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