Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial of Counselling in a Community Mental Health Setting: Pitfalls and Learnings

Joanna Farr, Gina Di Malta, Mick Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The establishment of counselling and psychotherapy as ‘evidence-based’ interventions is contingent on the effective implementation of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in real world clinical settings. This paper identifies some of the pitfalls that led to the termination of a practical RCT in a community mental health setting. It reflects upon the significance of the lessons learned by drawing on similar challenges that are documented in the wider literature. Issues surrounding staff turnover, counsellor engagement, and procedural clarity are discussed; as is the conflict between the time required for research procedures and counsellors’ clinical time constraints. In our recommendations, we recognise the decisive role of collaboration and counsellor motivation in research partnerships; and the significance of clinical relevance, communication, training, and research co-production in achieving them. Time commitment is identified as the pivotal challenge in the formation and maintenance of collaborative research, but one that also must be overcome for the advancement of the counselling and psychotherapy field.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • randomised controlled trial
  • practice-based research
  • practice-oriented research
  • counselling research

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