First pilot study for children utilising systematic feedback in therapy suggests effects may be beneficial

  • Monday, September 2, 2019

A proven therapy method for adults called ‘systematic feedback’, in which client feedback is provided to the counsellor after each therapeutic session, has indicated positive benefits in the first pilot study with children.

The research study was a collaboration between the Department of Psychology at the University of Roehampton, the children’s charity Place2Be, and the US-based online feedback service Better Outcomes Now.


They trialled the Partners for Change Outcome Management System (PCOMS) in ten UK primary schools, with children aged 7-11 years old. There were 38 children total in the study who had been referred for help. The researchers compared play-based counselling with and without using PCOMS. Children that participated in the PCOMS therapeutic sessions were able to give feedback on how they were doing and how they found the therapy. This group also showed an increase in mental health benefits over those who did not have this opportunity.


Professor Mick Cooper said “There’s strong evidence over the last twenty years that the Partners for Change Outcome Management System improves therapeutic results within adults. This is the first controlled pilot study looking at PCOMS in children, and we have found some indicators that this may be effective in improving children’s mental health too. We need to be cautious as it was a pilot study and the sample size is small, but the magnitude of effect was encouraging. Importantly, we showed that it is possible to rigorously examine the effects of systematic feedback on children. We would like to trial this further amongst more schools.”

The article has recently been published in the Counselling Psychology Quarterly and can be read here.

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