Researchers Develop New Guidance for the Delivery of Psychological Therapy to Children by Phone News

Researchers Develop New Guidance for the Delivery of Psychological Therapy to Children by Phone

Researchers Develop New Guidance for the Delivery of Psychological Therapy to Children by Phone

Psychologists from Queen Mary University of London, American University of Beirut, Médecins du Monde and John Hopkins University, have created a free online resource for mental health services now looking to deliver psychological therapy remotely to children amid the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The guidance document draws on the researchers’ experience adapting an existing psychological treatment to phone delivery for Syrian refugee children living in Lebanon, which they are currently investigating as part of a clinical research study.

Whilst the resource is especially relevant for those working in refugee or other low resource settings, the researchers suggest this guidance can be adopted by children’s mental health services worldwide who are now transitioning to online or phone delivery due to Covid-19.

Professor Michael Pluess, Professor of Psychology at Queen Mary, said: ‘Initially we had some reservations around how successful remote delivery of an existing treatment would be, however we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well the remote treatment programme has worked so far with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. Whilst we’re still waiting for the complete results of our study, we’ve developed this guidance to support the many practitioners that now need to deliver psychological treatment via phone or other remote technologies.”

While some existing psychological therapies have been specifically developed for phone delivery, most of the current mental health treatments for children have been designed for face-to-face and in-person delivery and have not undergone the specific adaptation and evaluation processes for delivery over the phone or via video calls.

The resource covers topics such as developing safety protocols and managing risk over the phone, adapting therapy to maintain child engagement and tips to manage specific practical and treatment-related challenges that can arise during therapy.

Whilst the guidance proposes a number of specific solutions to support mental health services transitioning to remote delivery, the researchers outline that is important for each service to adapt these to create protocols appropriate for their specific setting, population, and type of therapy.

Dr Fiona McEwen, Postdoctoral Researcher at Queen Mary, said: “Through the delivery of our research project, we’ve already learnt a great deal in terms of what does and doesn’t work when it comes to delivering treatment remotely to children. We hope that by sharing our guiding principles we can help mental health services to deliver safe and effective therapy remotely and ensure that children worldwide continue to receive the treatment they need in these challenging circumstances.”



Notes to Editors

  • The guidance document ‘Delivering psychological treatment to children via phone: a set of guiding principles based on recent research with Syrian refugee children’ can be found online here.
  • The t-CETA research project aims to evaluate phone-delivered psychotherapy for refugee children. It is funded by Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme, which is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Wellcome, and the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). More information about the project can be found here.

For further information, please contact:

Sophie McLachlan

Faculty Communications Manager (Science & Engineering)

Queen Mary University of London

Tel: 020 7882 3787