Controlled study into the effectiveness of individual client-centred counselling for young offenders in residential care

  • W.H. Lockhart

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study is toe first documented account in the British Isles of an evaluation of the effectiveness of client-centred counselling with young offenders in secure residential care. It is a test of Rogers' (1957) position on the 'necessary and sufficient' conditions of therapeutic personality change within a counselling relationship.
Forty teenage male offenders, the subjects of Training School Orders, were randomly allocated in equal numbers to either an experimental or control group. Boys in the experimental group received weekly individual sessions of client-centred counselling over a seven month period. Boys in the control group received no formal counselling but were shown to have similar intellectual, personality, socio-economic and criminal backgrounds to those in the experimental group. It was hypothesised that counselled subjects would show more positive outcomes than control subjects over a range of measures relating to criminal behaviour and self-conception.
The results indicated that the counselled subjects had a significantly lower rate of offending and a srnaller range of offences over a mean follow-up period of 2.5 years. They were also licensed from the institution significantly earlier and spent less time in custody during a one year follow-up after counselling was completed. Self-conception measures gave less clear-cut results. The direction of change towards better adjustment favoured the counselled subjects but the
magnitude was often small. Those counselled subjects with most positive behaviour change tended to have significantly improved self-evaluation, less self/ideal self discrepancy and more variation on 'actual' self concept compared to pre-counselling. The results are discussed in the context of client-centred theory, methodological adequacy of the experimental design, and their application to the future treatment of young offenders in secure residential care.
Date of AwardMar 1982
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorR. Nelson-Jones (Supervisor)


  • client- centered counselling
  • young offenders

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