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 An electronic search of relevant databases resulted in 190 unpublished and published studies that met criteria for inclusion in the analysis.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.
- Child outcomes
- Mental health
- Quantitative review
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology