Counselling is the most common treatment type for problematic alcohol or other drug use. Psycho-social counselling refers to evidence-informed talking therapies, aimed at helping the person develop skills (whether that be psychological skills, and/or practical skills) to reduce alcohol or other drug consumption and/or harms, in line with the person’s own goals. For more information on counselling see glossary.
- counselling was reported as a main treatment type in 36% (83,326) of all treatment episodes
- almost 2 in 5 (37%) treatment episodes for people receiving support for their own alcohol or drug use involved counselling as the main treatment, a decline from 38% in 2020–21
- for treatment episodes where the client sought support for someone else’s drug use, more than 1 in 3 (36%) episodes involved counselling as the main treatment type, a decline from 44% in 2020–21.
- among clients seeking treatment for their own alcohol or drug use, counselling as a main treatment was most commonly provided where the principal drug of concern was alcohol (40%), cannabis (25%), or amphetamines (24%) (Tables Trt.3, Trt.16).
In 2021–22, for clients whose main treatment was counselling:
- more than 3 in 5 (62%) people receiving counselling for their own alcohol or drug use were male, while more than half (53%) of people seeking treatment for someone else’s alcohol or drug use were female (19% of those who sought treatment for someone else’s alcohol or drug use did not have their sex reported)
- over half (54%) of people receiving counselling for their own alcohol or drug use were aged 20–39, while over half (56%) of people who sought counselling for someone else’s alcohol or drug use were aged 40 and over
- for people receiving treatment for their own alcohol or drug use, 18% identified as Indigenous Australians, compared with 6.8% of people who received counselling for someone else’s alcohol or drug use (tables SC.18–20).
Counselling treatment is provided for a client’s own alcohol or drug use, as well as those seeking support for someone else’s alcohol or drug use.
Over the 10-year period to 2021–22 for clients who received counselling:
- treatment episodes for counselling were longer than all other treatment types, ranging between a median length of 53 and 70 days; in 2021–22 the median length was 71 days (over 10 weeks) (Table OV.11).
- for their own alcohol or drug use, the proportion of treatment episodes that ended within 1 month fell from 33% to 27%
- for someone else’s alcohol or drug use, the proportion of treatment episodes ending within 1 month fell from 40% to 20%. In contrast, the proportion lasting 3 to 6 months increased from 16% in 2012–13 to 26% in 2021–22 (Table Trt.21).