↑ Return to Research

Research Studies

PACFA supports research into counselling and psychotherapy. As a service to the field, we list current research studies being undertaken by academics and students who ask us to publicise their research.

PACFA wishes to support researchers who are undertaking counselling and psychotherapy research. PACFA Registrants and other counsellors and psychotherapists are encouraged to participate in these research studies, and where appropriate, to encourage clients to participate in studies.

Latest Research Studies

PACFA only publicises studies with Human Research Ethics Approvals. If you have any concerns about the research, or its conduct, please contact the researcher or the relevant Human Research Ethics Committee.

Study on the effectiveness of training programs to develop therapist characteristics and behaviours that improve client outcomes

This study is being conducted by Professor Denis O’Hara, Dr John Meteyard, and Ms Fiona O’Hara of the School of Counselling at the Australian College of Applied Psychology, ethics approval number 277080316.  The study is designed to examine the effectiveness of PACFA accredited training courses in facilitating the development of therapist characteristics and behaviours that are known or theorised to improve outcomes for clients experiencing counselling or psychotherapy.

The researchers hope to learn how effective PACFA accredited counselling and psychotherapy programs are in facilitating the development of a range of attributes, including self-differentiation, hope, spiritual quest, self-awareness, epistemological maturity and the ability to manage counter-transference, in trainee counsellors and therapists.

Participants must be currently enrolled in a PACFA-accredited counselling or psychotherapy training program.

Participation in this study is completely voluntary and receipt of this invitation to participate in no way represents an expectation that you should take part if you do not wish to. If you wish to take part in this research study, please read through the attached Research Participant Information Statement which contains the link to the survey at the end.

The usefulness of silence by therapists

Graham Rhodes has Ethics Approval No. 267250216 to undertake a study on the usefulness of silence by therapists from the perspectives of both the therapist and the client. The study will look at the usefulness of silence by the therapist during a therapy session and will take the form of an interview of not more than two hours. The study is part of the researcher’s Masters program.

The researcher will arrange to meet with therapists interested in participating to carry out an interview, with the aim of developing a more in depth understanding of the value of silence in therapy. On completion of the study, participants will receive a copy of the completed report.

Therapists are invited to discuss the research project with your clients to encourage them to be interviewed for the research study.

For further information, including publicity flyers, please contact the researcher at 171737@my.acap.edu.au or via mobile 0418 345 307.

Tuning Relationships with Music: A Pilot Study

Dr S S Havighurst and Vivienne Colegrove have ethics approval number 1545067.1 to undertake a research study into the use of music as a intervention for parents and teenagers.

Tuning Relationships with Music (TRM) is an 8 session dyadic intervention for parents and teens (10-18 years) who would like help to improve how they communicate and deal with conflict, and where the parent has a history of interpersonal trauma. TRM uses music to help parents and teens with the nonverbal aspects of their interaction, as well as providing a way to engage the young person and assist with emotion awareness/regulation in the interpersonal context. Families do NOT have to have any music skills. I am conducting a pilot study for my PhD at Melb Uni (Mindful), using a randomised controlled design.

Families can come to either Flemington (Mindful), Headspace Craigieburn, or Eltham (Vivienne Colgrove’s private practice rooms) . All families will be seen immediately for assessment (includes clinical assessment, filling out questionnaires and a music-based observational assessment); then some will be allocated to immediate intervention, and others will have to wait 4 months and complete the research measures again before having TRM. There is no cost to families and they will receive a JB-HIFI gift card of $30.

Families or referrers can contact Vivienne Colegrove on 0409 949 300 or email vcolegrove@student.unimelb.edu.au to obtain further information about the research incuding publicity flyers.

Recent Research Studies

Emotionality in Telecounselling: Emotional Awareness and Diagnostic Ability

Dr George Van Doorn and Ebrahim Alvandi have ethics approval to undertake a study on the emotionality of telecounselling.  This survey aims to explore how clinicians experience therapeutic communication via technology, and judge the emotional content of communication. If you are currently teach or educate in psychology, counselling, welfare, medicine or nursing, or describe yourself as a mental health professional who provides online or telecounselling services, we hope you will help us by participating in this research project. However, all mental health professional are encouraged to participate.

This experiment is voluntary and full anonymity and confidentiality is assured. No personal information will be collected. We anticipate the time required will be of the order of twenty minutes.

To participate, please go through the explanatory statement and access the survey by clicking the following link: https://monash.az1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_b7Wya5Ccdda0Q5v.

Study on mindfulness and its influence on clinical practice

Mindfulness is a quality and practice which can be beneficial in counselling and psychotherapy, from helping clients cope with anxiety to enhancing the quality of the therapeutic relationship. Mindfulness practices may include, but not limited to, meditation, yoga, Qi-Gong, body scan, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing techniques, mindful eating, and more. All mental health practitioners with interest and involvement in mindfulness are encouraged to apply to participate in this study.

The study explores the practitioners’ experiences of practising mindfulness, the effect it has on themselves, and on their clinical practice. The benefits of participating in the study may include increased awareness of mindfulness on themselves and their practice, as well as contributing to the field of mindfulness in counselling. This study is being undertaken by Tanya Luangsangthong, HREC Approval number is 240250815.

Participation involves a Skype interview of 45-minute to an hour at a time of your convenience. Participation is voluntary and confidential. Please email Tanya via 221560@my.acap.edu.au  or call 0422 131 444 for more information or expression of interest.

Counsellors’ experience of the therapeutic relationship in online counselling

Arti Mayan has Ethics Approval No 236030815 to undertake a study aimed at gaining understanding of the counsellor’s experience of the therapeutic relationship in online counselling.

The therapeutic relationship is an important part of the counselling process, which involves various elements, such as trust, empathy and transparency etc. Technology has had an influence on the counselling profession with online counselling and therapy becoming more common. In the literature, there are different views on the development of the therapeutic relationship in online counselling. Richard and Vigano (2009) state that some online counsellors found rapport building with clients challenging, because they are not physically present, whereas Fletcher-Tomenius and Vossler (2009) found other counsellors argue clients prefer online counselling because it is convenient and clients feel less anxious as a result of not being present in the room. The convenience and lack of anxiety helps build an open relationship between the client and the therapist.

There is a lack of research exploring the counsellor’ experience as most research has focused on clients’ experience. Therefore, exploring the counsellors’ experience will give broader insight and knowledge into what therapeutic relationship means to counsellors who practice online counselling.

Participation: Counsellors who are currently practising, or have practised as online counsellors, are invited to participate in the study. A one-hour recorded face-to-face interview is required, preferably in Melbourne. To participate in the study, or for further information, please email arti.mayan@my.acap.edu.au.

Invitation to participate in PACFA-funded research on ethics – Keeping Trust in Real-Life Therapy Sessions

Dr Andrea Lamont-Mills and Mr Steven Christensen from the University of Southern Queensland have Ethics approval number H14REA08 to undertake a study looking at how informed consent and confidentiality is talked about in real-life counselling or psychotherapy consultations.  The study has received a research seed grant from PACFA.

According to PACFA’s Code of Ethics, gaining and maintaining the trust of clients is critical to best practice.  The code explicitly requires that practitioners obtain explicit informed consent to provide therapy with a client.  We are inviting practising counsellors and psychotherapists to participate in the research study which will extend our knowledge of how informed consent and confidentiality is introduced by counsellors and psychotherapists and how it is understood by clients.  The study help improve the therapy process by helping counsellors and psychotherapists become more aware of how they talk to clients and how different ways of discussing informed consent and confidentiality can impact upon client understandings of these issues.

To participate in the study, please email andrea.lamont-mills@usq.edu.au. For further information about the study, please contact Dr Andrea Lamont-Mills, phone (07) 3470 4134 or mobile 0409 639 148.

Research participants wanted for study on the impact of mental health work on practitioner wellbeing

There is increasing interest in protecting employees and preventing ill-health by promoting healthy lifestyle behaviours, self-care and colleague support. We are seeking the participation of mental health professionals who are employed by organisations to work with clients experiencing mental illness. This study investigates employee health, burnout and engagement and factors such as participation in health behaviours, workplace belonging and psychological capital.

This study is being undertaken by Lisa Johnson as part of her Masters of Organisational Psychology degree at Griffith University, Ethics approval number: PSY/83/15/HREC, and is supervised by Professor Paula Brough.

Participation involves completing an anonymous online questionnaire. After completing the questionnaire, participants are able to provide their contact details (separate from their questionnaire responses) to go into the draw for one of three $50 Coles/Myers vouchers. The online survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

All mental health professional are encouraged to participate. Simply click on the link the anonymous online research questionnaire: http://griffithbbh.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_dp2GLT05jCqTHy5

Invitation to participate in study on Attitudes to Overweight and Obesity in Mental Health Professionals

Dr Sharon Grant  and Mr Toby Mizzi from Swinburne University of Technology have Ethics Approval for a study on Attitudes to Overweight and Obesity in Mental Health Professionals.

Weight bias has been described as one of the last socially acceptable forms of prejudice (Lewis & Van Puymbroeck, 2008). Although anti-fat attitudes are widespread, factors such as motives to control prejudice may account for differences in such attitudes. Devine, Plant, Amodio, Harmon-Jones, and Vance (2002) distinguished between internal motives to control prejudice (internalisation of egalitarian motives) and external motives to control prejudice (e.g., impression management). One might expect internal motives to control prejudice to increase over the course of psychological studies or work experience, as practitioners learn to accept and empathise with others. If this is the case, then psychology components to address stigma in health sciences courses may assist in reducing weight stigma among health professionals.

The current study aims to assess implicit and explicit anti-fat attitudes and motives to control prejudice among training (provisional) and registered psychologists and counsellors. The researchers have completed similar projects in 2012 measuring biases among undergraduate psychology student cohorts (first and final year).   Additionally, this study will explore several factors which may contribute to anti-fat attitudes and pro-thin bias such as knowledge of obesity, how someone might make judgements based on appearance, and experience in working with obese individuals. If you wish to participate in this project, please go to http://research.millisecond.com/socialpsych/CombinedStudy2.web

For further information, please contact Toby Mizzi at tmizzi@swin.edu.au or phone (03) 9214 4436.

Archived Research Studies

Go to the Archived Research Studies page.