Counselling & Psychotherapy Experience & Attitudes Quantitative Research

The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy commissioned research in 2011 regarding ‘Counselling & Psychotherapy Experience & Attitudes Quantitative Research’. The research was addressed to a nationally representative, quota controlled sample of 1,005 adults aged 16+, corresponding with a national population of 3,591,000. The report document makes for some interesting reading. 80% of those questioned felt that psychotherapy or counselling proved to be a very valuable treatment, with only 1 in 5 questioning its effectiveness. For me, possibly the most interesting data set was to do with questions around the value and effectiveness of psychotherapy. 31% of people questioned felt that having someone to they could talk to unhindered by the fear of judgement and to have someone actively listen to them were key factors to their sense of success and accomplishment throughout the process. Of course, psychotherapy and counselling is not just about a person listening to another person. This research supports my belief that it is through the special relationship forged between therapist and client that true change can be met. The psychotherapeutic relationship is unlike other relationships and is a strong vehicle to help a person encounter and understand resistance which may be impeding areas of their life and support safe exploration so that they can allow themselves to make choices anew. Those that did not value the experience as highly, cited that they didn’t feel a common bond with the therapist. Again, this speaks to me of the importance of building a unique relationship with each client, not working to a script or dogmatically following a theoretical framework. Therapy should meet the needs of the person attending, it should not be the case that the person attending must fit to the therapeutic framework. Each individual is just that, individual, with unique backgrounds, challenges and hopes. Therapy should reflect that and the therapist should always be keenly aware of offering a unique therapeutic experience to all oh his or her clients. One statistic which concerns me was that 23% of people questioned felt that they would be embarrassed to have attended therapy. Although I believe the stigma of actively seeking support in the arena of mental health issues is decreasing, it is clear we, as a society, still have a long way to go to ensure that those in need do not feel embarrassed by taking what is a very courageous step, asking for help.  Data taken from