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Keywords:

  • Psychotherapy;
  • young people;
  • treatment dropout and continuer;
  • conduct disorder

Background:  The paper reports the findings from a follow-up study of the factors that contribute to whether young people dropout or continue once-weekly psychotherapy at a voluntary sector psychotherapy service for young people aged 12 to 21 years.

Method:  The study uses data from an ongoing audit of the psychotherapy service that started in 1993; 882 young people were included in the study. Premature termination of treatment was defined as dropping out before the 21st session. Continuation in treatment was defined as remaining in therapy after 20 sessions. Measures and areas of interest used in the study include diagnostic measures, the Youth Self Report Form and Young Adult Self Report Form, demographic characteristics and treatment related information.

Results:  Young people who continued in treatment were more likely to be older, have anxieties about sexual and relationship issues and have higher scores on self-reported anxiety-depression. Young people who dropped out of treatment were more likely to be younger, have higher self-reported delinquency scores, have a diagnosis of hyperactivity-conduct disorder and be homeless.

Conclusions:  The study of treatment termination has demonstrated the value of service audit and has led to a significant change in clinical practice.