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Counselling effective in treating depression and anxiety

Counselling is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety within a primary care setting, with 66% of clients achieving a clinical recovery within an average of six sessions.
This is the key finding of research by Elizabeth Freire of the University of Strathclyde and Kevin McGeever of the Lanarkshire Counselling Service, which will be presented at the 16th Annual BACP Research Conference. The event takes place at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel, Hounslow, Middlesex, on 14-15 May 2010.

Participants in the study were assessed at the beginning and end of counselling. The results showed that reductions in levels of psychological distress from pre- to post-counselling were large, reliable, and clinically significant.

The research also compared the improvement that clients achieved during counselling with the improvement they achieved while just waiting for counselling (in average, clients waited for 11 weeks before starting counselling). The results showed that whereas clients' mental health improved significantly with counselling, no significant improvement was achieved during the waiting period.

584 clients with common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, participated in this evaluation, carried out across 65 GP practices in West Scotland over the course of a year. 90% of those participants were experiencing clinical levels of anxiety and 74% were experiencing clinical level of depression at the initial screening. 94.6% of the clients were offered person-centred counselling or some integrative modality based on person-centred principles of counselling.

Elizabeth Freire, said: "This research demonstrates that counselling, and more specifically the person-centred modality of counselling, is an effective and valuable choice for primary care patients. Our results show that counselling is an effective form of treatment for depression and anxiety and other non-specific generic psychological problems presented by patients in primary care settings"

published 14th May, 2010

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