Counselling for sight loss: using systematic case study research to build a client informed practice model

Mhairi Thurston*, John McLeod, Allen Thurston

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    There is compelling evidence to suggest that acquired sight loss negatively impacts on emotional well-being. Despite increasing recognition of the need to provide emotional support for people with sight loss, we still do not fully understand what counselling interventions help and why they help. The aim of this study was to examine the process and outcome of counselling for a 70-year-old client who had experienced complete, irreversible, post-operative sight loss in order to gain a deeper understanding of client-defined helpful aspects of therapy. A Hermeneutic Single-Case Efficacy Design study was undertaken having received ethical approval from the University’s Research Ethics Committee. The client received six sessions of counselling from a vision-impaired counsellor working within a pluralistic framework. Measures were completed by the client at every session, as well as at pre- and post-counselling. All sessions were recorded and transcribed. The client also participated in pre- and post-counselling interviews. Data formed a rich case record that was analysed by a quasi-judicial enquiry team. Results suggested that this was a successful outcome case. Client-defined helpful aspects of therapy were (1) feeling understood; (2) being able to express emotions around the loss of sight; (3) finding a new identity; (4) finding ways to cope with fear, loss, dependency, and other people’s perceptions; (5) exploring the possibility of a positive future without sight; (6) making sense of things; and (7) finding ways to become more socially connected. Relevant therapeutic tasks are proposed, and four key aspects of therapy are identified, which may have implications for the development of a practice model.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)102-122
    Number of pages21
    JournalBritish Journal of Visual Impairment
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013


    • Case study
    • Counselling
    • Helpful aspects of therapy
    • Hermeneutic Single-Case Efficacy Design study
    • Outcomes
    • Sight loss


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