Counselling

Counselling is the most common treatment type for problematic alcohol and/or other drug use. Psycho-social counselling refers to evidence-informed talking therapies, aimed at helping the person develop skills (whether that be psychological skills, and/or practical skills) to reduce alcohol or other drug consumption and/or harms, in line with the person’s own goals. Examples of evidence-based psycho-social counselling include cognitive-behaviour therapy, contingency management and relapse prevention. Psycho-social counselling can be delivered individually (one on one) or in groups, and may involve family members or be delivered to family members alone) (Department of Health 2019).

In 2019–20:

  • counselling was reported as a main treatment type in 37% (88,260) of all treatment episodes
  • almost 2 in 5 (37%) treatment episodes for clients seeking support for their own drug use involved counselling as the main treatment
  • for treatment episodes where the client sought support for someone else’s drug use, over 2 in 5 (43%) treatment episodes were for counselling; a decline from 52% in 2018–19
  • counselling as a main treatment type were most commonly provided to clients seeking treatment for their own drug use, whose principal drug of concern was alcohol (35%), amphetamines (31%), or cannabis (20%) (tables ST.4, ST.22).

Client profile

In 2019–20, for clients whose main treatment was counselling:

  • almost two-thirds (65%) of clients seeking counselling for their own alcohol or drug use were male, while 56% of clients seeking treatment for someone else’s alcohol or drug use were female  
  • over half (56%) of clients seeking treatment for own drug use were aged 20–39, while 59% of clients seeking counselling for someone else’s use were aged 40 and over
  • for clients seeking treatment for their own alcohol or drug use, 18% identified as Indigenous Australians, compared with 7% of clients who received counselling for someone else’s alcohol or drug use (tables SC.15–17).

Treatment profile

Counselling treatment for clients’ own alcohol or drug use and for someone else’s drug use:

  • around 1 in 10 (11%) of episodes lasted 1 day for own alcohol drug use and 6% of episodes for someone else’s use
  • counselling episodes were longer than all other treatment types, with a median length of 67 days (or almost 10 weeks).

Over the 10-year period to 2019–20 for clients who received counselling:

  • for their own alcohol or drug use, the proportion of treatment episodes that ended within 1 month fell from 33% to 28%
  • for someone else’s alcohol or drug use, the proportion of closed episodes lasting 1 day fell from 16% to 6%. In contrast, the proportion lasting 6 months or more increased, from 12% in 2010–11 to 17% in 2019–20, though this fluctuated over the period (tables SE.24, ST.26–27).

References

See reference list.