Enhancing Childline’s counselling model: evidence briefing

Experiences of implementing an enhanced counselling model in two Childline bases

Publication date 2022

Childline’s 24-hour confidential online and telephone counselling service provides children and young people across the UK with emotional support.

In recent years, Childline has seen growing demand for its online counselling and an increase in the level of risk and complexity in issues presented by young people, particularly around mental health.

To meet the needs of young people, an enhanced counselling model was developed. It retains the core principles of Childline counselling whilst drawing on elements of established therapeutic practices to provide counsellors with a greater range of tools and techniques to support young people.

This evidence briefing looks at the implementation of the enhanced counselling model in two Childline bases and considers:

  • practitioners’ experiences of using the enhanced counselling model
  • early impressions on the effectiveness of the enhanced model
  • factors that supported or hindered implementation of the enhanced model.

Evidence was gathered from focus groups and surveys with Childline counsellors and supervisors, and a feedback survey with young people.

Authors: Chloe Gill and Caroline Elliot
Published: 2022

“[The counsellor] listened and looked at the situation in a different way and turned it in a different perspective.”

Feedback from a young person who contacted Childline

Key findings

The enhanced model provides a clear structure for counselling sessions

Counsellors felt the enhanced model provided a clear structure to guide counselling sessions, allowing for a more personalised and authentic response. Following the new model’s structure helped counsellors to identify a young person’s needs and provide responses to match those needs.

New tools and techniques from the enhanced model helped counsellors respond to emotional crisis and risk

Providing emotional support to young people remains at the heart of the enhanced model. The model also introduced tools and techniques to provide counsellors with a greater range of responses to help young people with their problems or if they were experiencing emotional distress.

Training counsellors and supervisors and monitoring feedback from young people is crucial

The evaluation found that training and support for counsellors and supervisors was important while developing new skills and gaining confidence in using the enhanced model. The research also recommends monitoring feedback from young people to gather insight on how the model is working and ways in which it can be developed further.


Please cite as: Gill, C. et al (2022) Enhancing Childline’s counselling model: early implementation experiences. London: NSPCC.

“[The counsellor] gave me a plan to make things better and safer and let me do it myself, which is good because I want to be in control of my situation.”

Feedback from a young person who contacted Childline