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An exploration into young people’s experience of therapy

Bergougnoux, T. L. (2018). An exploration into young people’s experience of therapy. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Young people today face significant challenges growing up and this generation has been described as being in crisis. The prevalence and impact of mental health issues in young people is widely known and there is increasing societal momentum to make improvements to the way that young people are supported. Despite this interest, little is known about how young people actually experience and make sense of the therapeutic process, which is what is explored in this study. Data was collected from eight participants using semi-structured interviews and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). From this analysis five main themes emerged. The first main theme is ‘Being a teenager’, which contextualises the analysis by exploring the participants’ identity development, desire to fit in and lack of knowledge and awareness at this stage of life. The second main theme is ‘Challenge of help-seeking’, in which participants describe a non-verbal help-seeking process and reflect that their distress went unnoticed until it was extreme. The third main theme is ‘Interpersonal therapeutic space’, in which the participants describe relational elements of their therapeutic process and the impact that this had on their engagement in therapy. The fourth main theme is ‘Therapeutic process’, in which the participants reflect on the beginning, middle and end of therapy. The final main theme is ‘Looking back’, in which participants reflect on and make sense of their experience of therapy. Significant findings were broad and included the impact and importance of the participants’ context of being a teenager, the identification of a non-verbal help-seeking process and the discovery that therapy was experienced more positively and felt to be more effective when the process was client-focused. Implications for Counselling Psychologists and other professionals are discussed and suggestions for future research are made.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
City, University of London (-2022) > School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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