Online counselling and goal achievement: Exploring meaningful change and the types of goals progressed by young people
Counselling and Psychotherapy Research
Young people are increasingly looking towards the internet for mental health support. There has been little research on the impact of online counselling, as captured in routine outcome measures. This research aims to explore an online counselling service, using goal-based data. Methods: 'Meaningful change' drawing on the principles of the Reliable Change Index, t tests and logistic regression were applied to administration data (n = 4,218) to assess goal progress, and associations between
... e contact, goal type and meaningful change. Results: 55.6% of young people reported meaningful goal improvement. Those who meaningfully improved spent significantly more time engaged than those who did not. Goal types most likely to meaningfully improve were 'getting professional help' and 'self-help-self-care'. Conclusions: Most young people made significant movement towards their collaboratively agreed goals, which is a good indication that the service is helping to address important areas of change. The findings, linked to earlier research, may indicate that those who report improvements in goals may engage with services more. The high proportion of 'getting help' goals may be attributable to the online setting, which young people may use as a first point of contact for help seeking, to gather information to access further support. With the increased uptake of online support services associated with the current global pandemic, future research should consider the present findings as a baseline of goal progress and service utilisation.