A youth perspective on psychotherapy: ideas and recommendations for enhancing the therapeutic relationship

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
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This study interviewed a group of youth who had extensive experience with psychotherapy in order to obtain their opinions regarding the therapeutic relationship and engagement in therapy. The establishment of a therapeutic relationship is a crucial component of successful therapy with adolescents as youth have unique developmental needs (e.g., establishing autonomy) that present challenges in therapy. Because Canadian youth are experiencing concerning rates of mental illness and suicidality, but are reluctant to seek out mental health services, research aimed at enhancing services is critical. A qualitative analysis was conducted to identify themes and concepts from the group discussion, based on which recommendations for establishing a therapeutic relationship and increasing engagement were devised. Major themes highlight a strong desire for youth to be treated as equals and understood as unique individuals, in addition to concerns regarding a perceived power differential and the feeling that professionals are “too busy to care”.
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