Counselling is the most common treatment type for problematic alcohol 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. For more information on Counselling see glossary.
- counselling was reported as a main treatment type in 38% (92,455) of all treatment episodes
- Almost 2 in 5 (38%) treatment episodes for people receiving support for their own alcohol or 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 (44%) episodes were for counselling; a decline from 52% in 2018–19
- counselling as a main treatment was most commonly provided to clients for their own drug use, whose principal drug of concern was alcohol (36%), amphetamines (25%), or cannabis (24%) (tables Trt.3, Trt.16).
In 2020–21, for clients whose main treatment was counselling:
- almost two-thirds (64%) of people receiving counselling for their own alcohol or drug use were male, while 52% of people seeking treatment for someone else’s alcohol or drug use were female (18% reported not stated)
- over half (55%) of people receiving counselling for their own alcohol or drug use were aged 20–39, while over half (55%) of people who sought counselling for someone else’s alcohol or drug use were aged over 40
- for people receiving treatment for their own alcohol or drug use, 17% identified as Indigenous Australians, compared with 7% of people who received counselling for someone else’s alcohol or drug use (tables SC.18–20).
Counselling treatment is provided for a clients’ own alcohol or drug use, or those seeking support for someone else’s drug use, treatment episodes for counselling were longer than all other treatment types, with a median length of 64 days (over 9 weeks) (Table OV.11).
Over the 10-year period to 2020–21 for clients who received counselling:
- for their own alcohol or drug use, the proportion of treatment episodes that ended within 1 month fell from 20% to 15%
- for someone else’s alcohol or drug use, the proportion of treatment episodes ending within 1 month fell from 22% to 17%. In contrast, the proportion lasting 3 to 6 months increased, from 17% in 2011–12 to 25% in 2020–21 (tables Ov.11, Trt.21).