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An electronic search of relevant databases resulted in 190 unpublished and published studies that met criteria for inclusion in the analysis.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 -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.
Copyright © 2016 Society for the Study of School Psychology.
Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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