Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 1057–1065 | Cite as

What Young People Want: A Qualitative Study of Adolescents’ Priorities for Engagement Across Psychological Services

  • Kerry GibsonEmail author
  • Claire Cartwright
  • Kelly Kerrisk
  • Julia Campbell
  • Fred Seymour
Original Paper


This article examined commonalities in adolescents’ priorities for engagement with psychological support in the context of contemporary youth culture in New Zealand. These were explored across a range of different services including a face-to-face hospital-based mental health service, a face-to-face school-based counseling service, a telephone counseling service and a new form of counseling using mobile phone text. Interviews were conducted with 63 young people aged 13–18 who had used at least one of these services. A thematic analysis identified that there were common priorities for participants across the different services including their need to keep control; not to have their parents involved; to have a relationship with a counselor which was more like a friendship than a professional relationship; to talk freely and be listened to; and to have the service be accessible and flexible enough to fit around their lives. Text and telephone counseling were seen to be particularly appropriate for meeting some of these needs. Professionals working with young people should consider offering a suite of options for psychological support, allowing young people to balance their different needs and priorities and thus facilitate their engagement.


Adolescence Psychological services Counseling Psychotherapy E-counseling Youth culture Text counseling 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kerry Gibson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Claire Cartwright
    • 1
  • Kelly Kerrisk
    • 1
  • Julia Campbell
    • 1
  • Fred Seymour
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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