Counselling works - but not in the way you might think


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Content type
Media release

March 2016

The paper, Defining and Delivering Effective Counselling and Psychotherapy, analysed the available research, which found that counselling delivers good outcomes for between 70 and 80 per cent of participants. 

The Institute’s director, Anne Hollonds said research also confirms that successful counselling and psychotherapy has very little to do with the type of counselling or the professional background of the counsellor or therapist.

“The quality of the relationship between a client and therapist has been shown over and over again to be a critical ingredient in successful counselling, aided by a belief in the value of counselling and a commitment to making relationships work,” she said.

“Counsellors who actively listen and adapt their approach to clients’ core beliefs and to what’s going on in their broader social environment tend to achieve consistently good outcomes.”

Senior Research Fellow, Professor Lawrie Moloney said that effective counselling can relieve distress, improve relationships and increase capacity to manage everyday challenges.

“Families are exposed to numerous life stresses and rapidly changing expectations, typically leading to one third to half of all marriages ending in divorce. Family and relationship counselling can help,” he said.

“Many clients working with relationship counsellors report rates of psychological distress that are four times those in the general population."

“Not surprisingly, some couples and families seeking help are beyond the point at which remaining together would be considered a viable or even a desirable outcome.

“For a couple in a significantly dysfunctional or abusive relationship for example, separation may be seen as a good outcome by at least one of the partners."

“Separation might be recorded as a failure by a relationship counselling organisation but recognised by the counsellor and even the clients as an outcome that releases both to seek happiness in a new set of life circumstances."

“The impact on children raises challenges for everyone. However, children do better if their separated parents can maintain an adequate ongoing relationship."

“Getting routine client feedback and using it to inform and tailor sessions and services has also been found to enhance counselling practice.” 

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Kate O'Connor      
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