Pluralistic counselling versus counselling as usual for young people presenting with addiction issues: a pilot randomised controlled trial

Patricia Joyce*, Mick Cooper, John McLeod, Joel Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

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Aim: The purpose of this study was to pilot a randomised controlled trial that aimed to test the hypothesis that counselling utilising a pluralistic framework was more effective than counselling as usual for young people experiencing issues as a result of their addiction. Method: Sixty‐four clients presenting with issues of addiction were allocated to either a counselling‐as‐usual (n = 33) or a pluralistic (n = 31) intervention. Psychometric measures (YP‐CORE and SDQ) were taken at baseline, endpoint and 3‐month follow‐up to compare changes in levels of psychological distress. Results: The use of a randomised controlled trial in practice‐based research was found to be feasible to both clients and the organisation in which the study took place. Recruitment and retention rates were acceptable. No statistically significant differences between groups were found on the primary and secondary measures. Discussion: The findings highlight the feasibility and acceptability of conducting such research within this unique context. The findings give preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of both counselling interventions. The absence of significant differences on our primary outcome between the two arms in this trial is not unexpected given its lack of power. Further research should continue to develop protocols to further maximise client retention and counsellor adherence.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
Early online date16 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jan 2022


  • Addiction
  • Counselling
  • Outcomes
  • Pilot RCT
  • Young people

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