The Education Policy Institute (EPI) has published an independent report – ahead of the Government’s green paper on children’s mental health – which finds that online counselling service, Kooth, supports young people in achieving 47% of active goals, with over 8,000 mental health goals set (April 2016-April 2017)
A new report from EPI shows XenZone’s online counselling service Kooth helping children and young people to set over 8,000 self-set mental health goals centred around issues including assertiveness, getting further help and overcoming anxiety. Between April 2016 and April 2017, 47% of goals were fully achieved, with progress against the rest being seen across the board.
All Kooth goals were set by young people on their own or in partnership with their counsellor, according to what they wanted to achieve from treatment. They tracked their progress by scoring each goal out of ten.
Kooth counsellors recognise that giving children and young people ownership of their goals is vital. The ability to set and track their journey means they feel empowered and take active ownership of their emotional development. Between 2016-17, the three types of goals seeing some of the most positive progress were:
- Assertiveness – goals around being able to assert needs progressed by an average 7.29 points
- Getting help outside service – goals around getting further help moved by an average 7.24 points
- Overcoming anxiety – goals moved by an average 7.21 points
Most (2,349) goals were centred on emotional wellbeing, such as dealing with anger, wanting to feel happier or coping with grief. Many (1,833) had targets around personal growth, which covers goals set around building self-confidence or developing life skills. A significant number (1,718) set goals on accessing further support, such as seeking help from family members or professionals.
The EPI report considers the existing evidence of efficacy of online counselling for children and young people, and focuses on the Kooth service as an example of an established service. The report examines Kooth data, feedback from users and commissioners of the service and existing academic studies.
Existing research1 quoted in the report, which analysed goals set by young people on Kooth, has shown that they are more likely than those using face-to-face counselling to:
- Set goals relating to intimate relationships when working online. The authors found that 16.9% of the goals set by young people using online counselling were related to intimate relationships whereas none of the goals set by those using face-to-face services were related to this. The EPI report suggests that “This may indicate that young people are more willing to discuss these more personal issues in the anonymous context of online counselling.”
- Set goals relating to their personal approach to others. For example, young people chose a large number of goals relating to accessing services (eg. ‘speak to head of year about…’). The authors speculated that this may be because young people were going online as their first port of call in accessing support, perhaps because traditional services were not easily accessible
1 Hanley, T., Ersahin, Z., Sefi, A., and Hebron, J. Comparing Online and Face to Face Student Counselling: What Therapeutic Goals Are Identified and What Are the Implications for Educational Providers? Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools 1, 2016.
Author of the report, Emily Frith said: “Our research highlights that young people value the control offered to them by online counselling. Part of this is being able to work with their counsellor to set their own goals to improve their mental health and wellbeing which is a key focus of Kooth’s approach.”
Aaron Sefi, business development director at XenZone, provider of the Kooth service commented: “Goals are incredibly important. They are a big indicator of success in therapy. Often goals can help in breaking down or defining an issue that a client is struggling with and can start them on a path to recovery. The fact that young people are achieving their goals through online therapy – sometimes over a long period requiring real commitment from the young person – is heartening to see. It shows their therapy is working and that they have a good relationship with their counsellor.”
About the report
The report “Online Mental Health Support for Young People” was commissioned by XenZone and produced independently by the Education Policy Institute. It provides a unique insight into current literature on online counselling as well as data from online counselling service, Kooth. It shines a light on what makes online counselling different to face-to-face services. The report provides valuable evidence on this exciting new way of providing support to children and young people. For example, it demonstrates how young people value the anonymity and control it provides. It also sets out key challenges, such as how to include this new provision in data collection to recognise the potential it has to increase access. Finally, the report sets out where further research is needed to build an evidence base to demonstrate the impact of online counselling provision.
Established in 2001, XenZone is a pioneer of online and face-to-face counselling. Of its two primary services, Kooth is aimed at supporting children and young people, while Qwell is focused on adults. Kooth launched in 2004, offering online and face-to-face counselling and self-help support for children and young people, free at the point of use. The Kooth website, where young people log-in anonymously, saw more than 30,000 new registrations in 2016-17. The service is available in more than 70 Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas.
Through Kooth and Qwell, our team of professional counsellors has delivered over 110,000 hours of online therapy to children, young people (CYP) and adults.
The Education Policy Institute (EPI) is an independent, impartial and evidence-based research institute that aims to promote high quality education outcomes, regardless of social background.
The EPI provides insights, commentary and critiques about education policy in England – shedding light on what is working and where further progress needs to be made.
For information/interviews with XenZone/Kooth, please contact Lex Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07948 408912
For information/interviews with EPI, please contact John Cope, Director of Communications and External Affairs, at email@example.com or on 0207 340 1160