Young people have been shown to prefer attractive, youth-friendly spaces in accessible central locations (Barry et al., 2002; Crago et al., 2004; Ensign & Gittlelsohn, 1998). Overly formal, clinical settings and cumbersome intake and assessment processes can be experienced by young people and families as impersonal and can act as a barrier to engagement (Bruun, 2008).
Young people are sensitive to the potential for stigmatisation, so it is important that services are inclusive and do not make young people feel different from their peers (Statham, 2004). Also, most clients, particularly those who are experiencing instability in their lives, prefer and often require a space that is physically and emotionally safe that can provide respite from violence at home or the dangers of street life (Barry et al., 2002; Karabanow & Clement, 2004; Meade & Slesnick, 2002).
Harsh exclusion policies for disruptive behaviour (Busen & Engebretson, 2008), focusing too much on the past, and assigning blame have also been found to act as barriers to engagement (Arnold & Rotherham-Borus, 2009).