A prominent need in youth psychotherapy literature includes the examination of factors related to improved psychotherapeutic outcomes within the context of "real world" clinical settings, where the practice of psychotherapy differs significantly from that in controlled clinical trials. In examining those factors related to improved outcomes in youth psychotherapy, variables related to social support are important to consider. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate youth perceptions of social support as a potential predictor of successful treatment outcomes in a traditional community outpatient treatment setting for youth. In addition, this study examined whether perceptions of social support predicted both youth and parent-reported symptoms. Also examined were differential outcomes predicted by social support for youth with primarily internalizing vs. externalizing symptoms. Youth and parent-reported symptoms were measured using the Y-OQ and the Y-OQ-SR (Y-OQ; Burlingame, Wells, Lambert, & Cox, 2004; Y-OQ-SR; Wells, Burlingame, & Rose, 2003). Perceived social support was measured using the TSM social support subscale for youth reporters. Internalizing and externalizing symptoms were measured using the CBCL. Using a combination of Analysis of Variance and Hierarchical Linear Modeling with a sample of 199 youth, aged 10-17, and their parents, this study examined the relationship between perceived social support and youth progress in therapy. Results revealed that youth perceptions of social support were significantly associated with youth intake symptoms for both parent and youth-reported symptoms. In addition, youth-reported perceptions of social support improved significantly over the course of treatment. Also, increased overall change in perceived social support was associated with decreased overall symptoms for youth reporters. Finally, no significant differences were found for youth presenting with primarily internalizing vs. primarily externalizing symptoms. Examining the associations between perceptions of social support and youth psychotherapy outcomes is an important step toward identifying potential mechanisms of change in youth mental health treatment. The results of this study provide valuable information on the importance of attending to perceptions of social support in the assessment and treatment of youth mental health issues.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





psychotherapy, psychotherapy research, adolescent, youth, social support, outcomes



Included in

Psychology Commons