Evaluation of the individual and organisational effects of an employee counselling service in the public sector.
Despite increasing provision of time-limited employee counselling schemes in the
UK, relatively little research has been conducted on their individual and organisational
benefits. The present thesis examined the benefits, effectiveness and factors associated with
therapeutic outcome of an employee counselling scheme (Support Line).
A series of interview studies with the services takeholders identified the evaluation
objectives. A naturalistic study including a) self-report measures of client distress (i.e.
mental health, personal and work functioning, general well being and problem severity) at
the start, the end and 3 months following the end of counselling; counsellor practice,
training and experience; and counsellor ratings of client change; and b) a baseline measure
of employee distress- an organisational survey of employees was conducted.
Results and Conclusions
Baseline comparisons revealed that clients at the start of counselling experienced
greater distress than their work colleagues. Counselling was shown to be effective for the
majority of client problems and in helping clients cope more effectively with their problems.
Measures of client change at the end of counselling (including effect sizes, statistical and
clinically significant change) showed Support Line to be as equally effective in reducing
client distress as other comparable interventions, and treatment gains were found to be
maintained over the follow-up. Factors found to be most likely associated with change at
the end of counselling included the quality of the counselling relationship, initial levels of
client severity and counsellor competency/skill. The examination of a selection of cases showing and not showing clinically significant improvements revealed qualitative differences
in the patterns and types of change experienced Organisational benefits included reductions
in clients' sickness and absence rates, and help to clients to make decisions concerning their
work roles. The limitations and implications of the findings and suggestions for future
research are discussed.