The Common Elements of Engagement in Children's Mental Health Services: Which Elements for Which Outcomes?

Kimberly D. Becker, Bethany R. Lee, Eric L. Daleiden, Michael Lindsey, Nicole E. Brandt, Bruce F. Chorpita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using the distillation component of the Distillation and Matching Model framework (Chorpita, Daleiden, & Weisz, 2005), we examined which engagement practices were associated with three domains of treatment engagement: attendance, adherence, and cognitive preparation (e.g., understanding of, readiness for treatment). Eighty-nine engagement interventions from 40 randomized controlled trials in children' s mental health services were coded according to their engagement practices and outcomes. Analyses examined whether the practices used in successful interventions differed according to engagement domain. Practice patterns differed somewhat depending on whether attendance, adherence, or cognitive preparation was the outcome of interest. For example, assessment of barriers to treatment frequently occurred in successful interventions targeting attendance, whereas homework assignment frequently occurred in successful interventions when adherence was the target outcome. Modeling and expectation setting were frequently used in successful interventions targeting cognitive preparation for treatment. Distillation provides a method for examining the practice patterns associated with different engagement outcomes. An example of the application of these findings to clinical practice includes using certain practices (e.g., assessment, psychoeducation about services, and accessibility promotion) with all youth and families to promote attendance, adherence, and cognitive preparation. Then, other practices (e.g., modeling, homework assignment) can be added on an as-needed basis to boost engagement or to address interference in a particular engagement domain. The use of a distillation framework promotes a common language around engagement and highlights practices that lend themselves well to training, thereby promoting the dissemination of engagement interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-43
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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