Community-based counselling for benzodiazepine withdrawal: a mixed-methods study of client outcomes

Gerald Wurf, Paul O’Neal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Despite adverse health outcomes being associated with long-term tranquilliser use, health professionals face numerous barriers in reducing reliance on benzodiazepines. This study investigated the effectiveness of focused counselling in facilitating benzodiazepine withdrawal. In phase one of a two-phase mixed-methods evaluation, preintervention and postintervention quantitative data for 24 participants were analysed. Measures included the Australian Treatment Outcome Profile, Kessler 10, and two client outcome ratings. In phase two, follow-up individual interviews were conducted with six participants. Following counselling, 88% of participants reported either reduced use or withdrawal from benzodiazepines. Significant reductions in psychological distress were obtained in Kessler 10 scores, and the calculated effect size (d = 0.84) was large. Medically supervised tapering was well received when combined with focused counselling. We found strong support for the tapering process and for the appropriateness of counselling. Withdrawal was facilitated when services were well coordinated and the client's sense of control was maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-783
Number of pages11
JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • benzodiazepines
  • client experiences
  • counselling
  • deprescribing
  • evidence-based practice
  • mental health

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