The effectiveness of pluralistic counselling versus usual intervention for young people presenting with addiction issues
: A pilot randomised control trial

  • Patricia Joyce

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Aim: The purpose of this study was to pilot a randomised control trial that aims to test the hypothesis that counselling utilising a pluralistic framework was more effective than counselling as usual for young people experiencing issues as result of their addiction.
Method: 64 young people 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 & SDQ) were taken at baseline, endpoint and 3-month follow up. 53 Client Change Interviews were undertaken to understand the process of change and the helpful and unhelpful aspects. 19 therapists who work with young people were recruited and interviewed to aid the design of a young person therapy personalisation form (YP-TPF), 31 young people participants completed YP-TPF forms that were statistical analysed post study. Study counsellors (n=3) were interviewed post study about their experience of
being part of the study. All qualitative data was analysed thematically.
Results: On the primary outcome measure, the YP-CORE, both the pluralistic and CaU showed a statistically significant decrease in their psychological distress from assessment to end of counselling and assessment to 3 month follow up. The qualitative data reported changes in relationships, emotions, self, and functioning and the helpful and unhelpful processes regardless of modality. Initial acceptability of the therapy personalisation form was reported. The use of a randomised control trial in practice-based research was found to be acceptable to stakeholders.
Discussion: The findings highlight the feasibility and acceptability of conducting such research within this unique context. Although not supporting the hypothesis, the findings give preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of both counselling interventions. The use of a youth specific tool to ascertain client preferences was found to be acceptable to client and counsellor. Further research should continue to develop protocols to further maximise client retention and counsellor adherence.
Date of Award28 Sept 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorMick Cooper (Director of Studies) & John McLeod (Co-Supervisor)


  • randomised control trial
  • counselling
  • young people
  • addiction
  • outcomes
  • therapy personalisation form

Cite this