Date of Paper

5-2014

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Ande Nesmith

Abstract

This qualitative study addresses the need for additional approaches to reaching youth who are struggling with mental health issues. The paper describes common barriers to serving a youth population, especially in a time of crisis. It explores the use of text counseling as a therapeutic response to youth in crisis or distress. It discusses the use of empowerment theory when developing and implementing services for a youth population. The study concludes with a description and discussion of the common themes identified through an inductive secondary data analysis of 14 text counseling sessions. The findings from this study were consistent with previous research. First, adolescent girls between the ages of 14-17 years old were the most frequent texters in this study. Second, youth quickly and openly make intimate disclosures about their feelings and thoughts when using a text platform. Third, and perhaps most importantly, adolescents do reach out for help when they are feeling overwhelmed, distressed, self-destructive and suicidal. Ongoing research in this area has the potential to strengthen our understanding of how to best serve and respond to the mental health needs of adolescents. Ideas for future research in this area are suggested.

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