Experiences with using an idiographic assessment procedure in primary mental health care services for adolescents
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being. 2020, 15 (1), 2-17. 10.1080/17482631.2020.1763741
Purpose: This article aims to explore counsellor experiences using an idiographic assessment procedure implemented in adolescent mental health services. The procedure, Assert, is based on asking the adolescents the question “What matters to you?” to define important topics to address in treatment. Methods: Focus groups and interviews were conducted with counsellors who used Assert (N = 27), and the data were analysed with thematic analysis. Results: Five themes were identified: (a) “What Matters to You?” (b) “Professional Responsibility,” (c) “Empowering the Adolescent,” (d) “Practical Utility of Assert in Treatment,” and (e) “The Implementation of Assert.” Each theme had a number of associated sub-themes. Conclusions: Assert was perceived by the counsellors as enhancing collaboration and conveying to the adolescents that the counsellors took their concerns seriously. It also provided structure by giving the sessions a concrete focus. However, some counsellors found it difficult to surrender control to the adolescents, and finding a balance between helping and directing the adolescents to define topics could be challenging at times. Assert was generally considered a useful and simple way to assess adolescents’ concerns, and it was accepted by the counsellors as a positive contribution to their existing methods.