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Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) in 10–17-year-olds presenting at police custody.


Children and young people who come into contact with the police often need help. Solutions is a randomised controlled trial with internal pilot. The trial aims to test out whether offering these children and young people a psychological treatment called Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is helpful. SFBT is a short-term therapy that helps people to change by focusing on building solutions rather than getting stuck thinking about problems.


We want to find whether this treatment works by running a clinical trial. We will give some children and young people Solution Focused Brief Therapy plus the routine treatment that they would normally get.  Other children and young people will only get the routine treatment that is currently offered when they come into contact with the police.  We will decide who gets which treatment at random, which is like flipping a coin.


In order to work out whether Solution Focused Brief Therapy is helpful, our trial has two parts. In the first part, we will run what is called a ‘pilot’. This is a test version of the trial which tests whether the trial can be run. If we find that this is the case, we will then move to do the second part, which is continuing with the main trial by inviting more children and young people to take part.

All of the children and young people who take part will be asked to complete some measures of things that may change because of taking part in SFBT. We are particularly interested in whether they are involved in any antisocial behaviours over the course of the trial. We will also ask about their background, their general well-being, any criminal activity they have been involved with in the past and any gang connections. We will also interview some of the children and young people receiving SFBT, their parents/guardians, and the professionals that deliver the SFBT therapy. We will ask them about their experiences of taking part in the trial.

Patient and public involvement

We have a Participant Advisory group of young people advising us on the trial as well as a lay member on our Trial Steering Committee.


The results will be published in academic journals and conferences.

Key facts

Start date 1 Apr 2022
End date 31 Jan 2025
Grant value £828,414
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