A qualitative study to investigate in what ways are the distinctive features of synchronous text- based counselling experienced as being helpful and/or unhelpful by young people?

  • Meera Dhesi

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Within the UK, there has been a growth of services delivering online counselling to young people. Many studies have identified helpful and unhelpful factors of online counselling for both adults and young people. This study expands upon this literature, by not only identifying what factors young people find helpful and unhelpful about synchronous online counselling but also how and why these factors are perceived as helpful or unhelpful. Participants were recruited through an online service in the UK that offers synchronous online counselling to 10-25 year olds. Thirteen young people, aged between 14-18 who had completed a minimum of 4 online counselling sessions with Kooth, were interviewed synchronously online, using semi structured interviews. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Four main themes were generated: 1. anonymity, 2. access and availability, 3. communication, and 4. control. The way in which young people perceived these as helpful and unhelpful is discussed for each. The findings can contribute to practice by offering recommendations to improve face to face service provisions such as improving access to therapy, greater availability of appointments and suggestions on how to facilitate a safe environment. Furthermore, recommendations are made of how online counselling provisions could be developed such as discussing the potential of misinterpretation with young people and developing functions for young people to upload documents or colour and draw to facilitate communication. The findings also highlight that further research could be done to explore in which contexts online counselling may be more or less helpful than face to face counselling. Limitations of the study included the use of one online counselling service, which may limit the transferability of the findings.
Date of Award17 Apr 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorMick Cooper (Supervisor), Jac Hayes (Supervisor) & Mark Donati (Supervisor)


  • Young people
  • Online counselling
  • Qualitative research
  • Helpful factors
  • Unhelpful factors
  • Thematic analysis

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