The magic wand question and recovery-focused practice in child and adolescent mental health services

Karen Wells, Marie McCaig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)



This paper uses a case study to describe the implementation of the Magic Wand Question (MWQ), also known as the miracle question, in a child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) in Scotland. The MWQ, a common intervention, is based on a Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) approach. This intervention was undertaken by a third year student nurse with the intention of demonstrating how practice can be more closely aligned to a recovery-focused, strengths-based approach, which is in line with national policy.


SFBT has a growing evidence base for use with children and young people. However, there are still some common uncertainties about its use; therefore, a literature review has been undertaken to further explore the evidence base for the use of SFBT, with a focus on the MWQ. Furthermore, an exploration of the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the MWQ is provided with a 15-year-old girl experiencing symptoms of low mood.


Although limitations have been identified, giving careful consideration to posing the MWQ, through detailed planning prior to implementation, led to an increased understanding of factors supporting the use of the MWQ and reduced any uncertainty around when to use the MWQ in practice. In this clinical intervention, with a 15-year-old girl experiencing symptoms of low mood, the use of the MWQ was successful.


The effectiveness of any treatment is best judged by the individual receiving care, and positive results have been achieved in this case study. Use of this approach ensured professionals were looking beyond diagnosis, illness, and problems in line with the principles of recovery-focused practice (Scottish Recovery Network [SRN] and NHS Education for Scotland [NES], 2007). The use of the MWQ in this case enhanced the knowledge of evidence-based practices, in line with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC, 2015) and improved overall outcomes for individuals receiving care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-170
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing
Issue number4
Early online date26 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2017


  • Child and adolescent mental health, Magic Wand Question, recovery-focused practice, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy


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