Loneliness From the Adolescent Perspective: A Qualitative Analysis of Conversations About Loneliness Between Adolescents and Childline Counselors

Lily Verity, Keming Yang, Rebecca Nowland, Aparna Shankar, Michelle Turnbull, Pamela Qualter

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Abstract

There is limited qualitative research on the experience of loneliness in adolescence, meaning key facets of the loneliness experience that are important in adolescence may have been overlooked. The current study addresses that gap in the literature and explores how loneliness is experienced in the context of adolescence from the perspective of adolescents. About 67 online counseling conversations between Childline counselors and adolescents (ages 12–18 years; 70% females) who had contacted Childline to talk about loneliness were analyzed using Thematic Framework Analysis to establish commonalities and salient issues involved in adolescent experiences of loneliness. Young people considered loneliness to be an intense experience that negatively impacted their daily lives. Experiences of loneliness revolved around difficulties with peer relationships, but turmoil at home worsened those experiences. Young people often employed short-term coping strategies that distracted them from loneliness. Issues with trusting others and self-worth acted as barriers to seeking long-term help. Recommendations include (1) the training of teachers and parents to recognize and support young people experiencing loneliness and (2) further research to establish the coping strategies that are used by adolescents who successfully overcome loneliness.

Keywords
loneliness, adolescents, counseling, qualitative, thematic framework analysis, self-harm
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)074355842211111
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Early online date11 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • counseling
  • loneliness
  • qualitative
  • self-harm
  • thematic framework analysis

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