Client preferences in counselling for alcohol problems: a qualitative investigation

Jillian Walls*, Julia McLeod, John McLeod

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
179 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Incorporating client expectations and preferences into the counselling process can lead to more positive outcomes and lower rates of dropout.

Aim: The aim of this study was to explore preferences for counselling held by clients prior to the commencement of therapy.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five clients seeking help from an alcohol counselling service and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Findings: Each client described a distinctive individual preference profile. While holding clear preferences for what would be helpful in counselling, clients were also open to new possibilities. They possessed a personal understanding of why certain activities and types of relationship might be helpful for them, and an appreciation of the types of therapeutic process that might lead them to quit therapy.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that clients are able to articulate their preferences, when offered the opportunity, and that qualitative methods have the potential to open up new understanding of the structure and meaning of preferences from the point of view of the client.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
Issue number2
Early online date5 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Alcohol misuse
  • Client experience
  • Helpfulness
  • Preferences
  • Qualitative research


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