Does psychotherapy work with school-aged youth? A meta-analytic examination of moderator variables that influence therapeutic outcomes

Alicia L. Fedewa, Soyeon Ahn, Robert J. Reese, Marietta M. Suarez, Ahjane Macquoid, Matthew C. Davis, H. Thompson Prout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study is a quantitative synthesis of the available literature to investigate the efficacy of psychotherapy for children's mental health outcomes. In particular, this study focuses on potential moderating variables-study design, treatment, client, and therapist characteristics-that may influence therapeutic outcomes for youth but have not been thoroughly accounted for in prior meta-analytic studies. An electronic search of relevant databases resulted in 190 unpublished and published studies that met criteria for inclusion in the analysis. Effect sizes differed by study design. Pre-post-test designs resulted in absolute magnitudes of treatment effects ranging from |-. 0.02. | to |-. 0.76. | while treatment versus control group comparison designs resulted in absolute magnitudes of treatment effects ranging from |-. 0.14. | to |-. 2.39. |. Changes in youth outcomes larger than 20% were found, irrespective of study design, for outcomes focused on psychosomatization (29% reduction), school attendance (25% increase), and stress (48% reduction). The magnitude of changes after psychotherapy ranged from 6% (externalizing problems) to 48% (stress). Several moderator variables significantly influenced psychotherapy treatment effect sizes, including frequency and length of treatment as well as treatment format. However, results did not support the superiority of a single type of intervention for most outcomes. Implications for therapy with school-aged youth and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-87
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of School Psychology
Volume56
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Keywords

  • Child outcomes
  • Counseling
  • Mental health
  • Meta-analysis
  • Quantitative review
  • Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education

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