Seminal studies of the impact of alcohol counsellor skills and support

In the alcohol treatment world, arguably studies don't get more important than these, added to the Effectiveness Bank as part of a project to identify key workforce development studies for the UK Substance Misuse Skills Consortium. Still challenging and thought-provoking, they have stood the test of time and remain major landmarks in the relatively scarce literature about what makes some alcohol counsellors, therapists and treatment services more effective than others.

'Treatment-resistant' skid-row alcoholics react to organised empathy
Later to become founding director of the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in the late 1950s Dr Morris Chafetz of Massachusetts General Hospital conducted a remarkable series of studies which proved that an alcohol clinic's intake and performance can be transformed by the simple application of empathy and organisation.
This entry was adapted from the Findings review The power of the welcoming reminder.

Training little use if it falls on stony organisational ground
English study which turned the spotlight on organisational factors in the development of a positive attitude to working with problem drinkers, in particular the availability of experience in working with these patients and the support of experienced colleagues. Without these the effects of training are less and less well sustained.

Socially skilled counsellors reduce relapse rate
US study which found that the therapy-related social skills of alcohol counsellors were strongly related to how many of their patients relapsed in the two years after leaving inpatient treatment, and that these skills could simply be measured from written responses to counselling scenarios.
Also see this replication study conducted in Finland.

Motivate rather than confront
Probably more than any other, this study heightened the profile of the therapist's interpersonal style in substance use counselling, seeming to confirm that by not provoking resistance, the non-confrontational style mandated by motivational interviewing reduced drinking compared to the then more typical blunt and challenging approach.
This entry was adapted from the Findings review The motivational hallo.

Sent by the Drug and Alcohol Findings Effectiveness Bank to alert you to site updates and UK-relevant evaluations and reviews of drug/alcohol interventions. Managed by DrugScope, Alcohol Concern and the National Addiction Centre. Supported by Alcohol Research UK and the J. Paul Getty Jr. Charitable Trust.