The clinical effectiveness of a brief consultation and advisory approach compared to treatment as usual in child and adolescent mental health services

Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2008 Jul;13(3):365-76. doi: 10.1177/1359104508090600.


A brief consultation and advice (BCA) approach to dealing with routine referrals was introduced into a child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) over an 18-month period. This is a time-limited, client-centred and solution-focused approach to dealing with common non-complex referrals. The model proposes that all families are seen for an initial 'consultation' appointment followed by a maximum of two further appointments. A randomized controlled study compared the clinical effectiveness of BCA treatment with treatment as usual (TAU) over a 6-month period. The parents of children referred to CAMHS were eligible to participate if their child was deemed 'non-complex'. Ethical approval was granted by the relevant ethics committee. Families who consented to participate in the study were randomly allocated to either the BCA or TAU group. Sixty children enrolled in the study. Both groups showed improvements on a number of variables at 3 months post treatment, but only those receiving BCA showed continued improvement at 6 months. Participants in both groups showed high levels of satisfaction with the treatment received. Participants in the TAU group expressed dissatisfaction with long waiting times and had a higher drop out rate than the BCA treatment group. During the time frame studied, the introduction of the BCA approach did not lead to a decrease in overall mean waiting time. These results and the usefulness of a BCA model are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services*
  • Bibliotherapy
  • Child
  • Child Health Services*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Control Groups
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Family Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services / standards*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Psychotherapy, Brief*
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waiting Lists