The issue of what is ‘effective’ in therapeutic interventions with children and young people who have experienced maltreatment has attracted increasing professional interest since the 1980s. Currently, these interventions are subject to evaluative processes that privilege data collected from the adult experts, who design and deliver them. Measurements of effectiveness are predominantly based on a positivist paradigm, as indicated by the number of studies that use standardised measures to capture therapeutic success. An important concern is the neglect of children and young people's voices in the discussion of therapeutic efficacy.
This article presents the findings of a review of the literature, which revealed the continued privileging of adult ‘expert’ voices and the under-representation of the contributions from children and young people. However, when children and young people were engaged as active participants in evaluation processes, they were shown to demonstrate a depth of insight, which requires a reappraisal of adults as the only source of expertise in the effectiveness debate. The view that children and young people can be knowledge generators as well as active agents in their own healing is reflected by this article's proposals for future research partnerships with children and young people and changes to practice and policy development.