The impact and utility of computerised therapy for educationally alienated teenagers: The views of adolescents who participated in an alternative education-based trial

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Abstract

Background:

Computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (cCBT) has the potential to increase access to therapy for underserved groups. We aimed to explore the views of adolescents attending alternative education (AE) programmes who participated in a trial of immediate compared with delayed cCBT (SPARX).

Methods:

Semi-structured interviews and brief satisfaction questionnaires were completed post-cCBT (n = 39, 24 male, 15 Māori, 12 Pacific Island, 30 with Children's Depression Rating Scale scores indicating symptoms of depression, all 13–16 years old). Interview findings were analysed using a general inductive analysis.

Results:

Those with and those without symptoms had similar views. Most reported they completed all seven levels of cCBT and experienced it as helpful and fun. Most considered that cCBT had benefited them, primarily in terms of increased calmness or reduced anger and fighting. Participants described cCBT as different from counselling, with cCBT seen as freeing and empowering although potentially less responsive to personal needs. Most considered that cCBT might increase help-seeking and thought it should be offered to all their peers as targeting individuals would not succeed and all would benefit.

Conclusions:

Educationally alienated adolescents considered cCBT beneficial and thought it should be offered universally in AE and similar programmes.

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