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Counselling, Counselling Psychology and Psychotherapy Effectiveness Research Group (CCPERG)

Counselling, Counselling Psychology and Psychotherapy Effectiveness Research Group (CCPERG)

Chair: Dr Peter Pearce, DPsych (Prof),


Research group participants:

Dr Evi Chryssafidou

Megan Rose Stafford



The overall aim of the Counselling, Counselling Psychology and Psychotherapy Effectiveness Research Group is to support knowledge and engagement with research to evaluate and evidence the benefits of therapy, as well as to engage critically with the current methodologies used in effectiveness trials and clinical guideline development. To this end the group will provide an umbrella structure to link, coordinate and facilitate effectiveness research activities across Metanoia and with other researchers and Institutions.

Engaging with effectiveness research is seen as both clinically and politically important. In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) develops its clinical practice guidelines based upon literature reviews of effectiveness research. Evidence that counselling and psychotherapy are effective and cost effective is therefore essential for the commissioning of services. If no research is available on a particular therapy, or if other research is considered to be of a higher standard, then the therapy may not be recommended, even if there is no evidence that it is less effective than more widely researched alternatives. Hence the dual approach taken by the group of ‘critical engagement’ with the ‘evidence-based paradigm.’

Members of the Research Group are active in a number of Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) and an aim of the group is to support the further development and quality of such studies and their reporting.

A further aim of the group is to act as a resource to support understanding and engagement with evidence-based practice at the Institute more generally, through information/ dissemination about high quality teaching about the collaborative use of outcome measures in routine practice. Research suggests that the collaborative use of routine outcome measures (ROMs) to give clients feedback on their progress in therapy is helpful to both the client and the practitioner and such feedback informed therapy (FIT) may improve outcomes. Effectiveness research can also support client choice by identifying a range of therapies which may be beneficial for them.

The group will engage with research at the Metanoia Counselling and Psychotherapy Service, (MCPS) where a number of practice-based research projects in counselling and psychotherapy research, evidence-based clinical practice and counselling and psychotherapy training are conducted. Particularly, MCPS focuses on sessional evaluation of routine outcomes of counselling and psychotherapy from a range of theoretical orientations. The research aims to inform evidence-based practice in the counselling and psychotherapy voluntary sector, where the service is often provided by trainee therapists. The routine outcome evaluation relies on standardised measures for depression, anxiety, general distress and working alliance.


Current projects:


ETHOS : A Randomised Controlled Trial into the Effectiveness of Humanistic School-Based Counselling

Evidence-based psychological interventions are available for young people, but these are primarily targeted at specific psychological ‘disorders’, such as depression and generalised anxiety.  By contrast, many young people in schools are experiencing life difficulties such as family problems, bullying, and bereavement that do not fit into specific diagnostic categories; but which have the potential to develop into more severe psychological problems if they are not addressed at an early stage. 
School-based counselling is an approach implemented in approximately two-thirds of secondary schools in the UK to address these broad-ranging difficulties.
In contrast to diagnosis-based interventions, school-based counselling aims to provide young people with a non-judgmental, empathic and confidential opportunity to talk through their problems and to find personal solutions. A distilled and standardised form of school-based counselling -- school-based humanistic counselling (SBHC) -- has now been established, and four pilot studies indicate that it has short-term effectiveness. A fully-powered trial is needed to provide a more definitive evaluation of its outcomes. There is also a need to see whether it is effective in the long-term, whether it is cost-effective, and the aspects of this intervention that are experienced as helpful and unhelpful. 
The findings of this study will be able to feed directly into Department for Education and Department of Health policy decisions regarding the implementation of school-based counselling services across England. This is something that is currently being considered, but decision-making is impeded by the lack of evidence. 

This study is a full powered RCT funded by Economic and Social Research Council. It involves establishing a counselling service in 18 English secondary schools that do not currently have an established counselling provision, recruiting approximately 325 young people across these schools, aged 13-16, assessed as experiencing symptoms of emotional distress. Some of these young people are being provided with up to 10 weeks of school-based humanistic counselling, while others are receiving their school’s usual pastoral care services. Decisions about who gets what treatment are made on a random basis, as this gives us the best chance of working out if the treatment really works. 
After six weeks, three and six months, the study looks at whether those young people who received counselling are experiencing less psychological distress than those who did not. The study also looks at whether the benefits of providing a counselling service justify the costs and seeks to research young people and stakeholders experience of the counselling offered.

Recent research output:


Rose Stafford, M., Cooper, M., Barkham, M., Beecham, J., Bower, P., Cromarty, K., Fugard, A., Jackson, C., Pearce, P., Ryder, R. & Street, C. (2018). Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of humanistic counselling in schools for young people with emotional distress (ETHOS): Study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials. 19 (1). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323671419_Effectiveness_and_cost-effectiveness_of_humanistic_counselling_in_schools_for_young_people_with_emotional_distress_ETHOS_Study_protocol_for_a_randomised_controlled_trial


Beecham, J., Pearce, P., Sewell, R. & Osman, S. (2018) Support and costs for students with emotional problems referred to school-based counselling: findings from the ALIGN study, British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, DOI: 10.1080/03069885.2018.1552777


Pearce, P., Sewell, R., Cooper, M., Osman, S., Fugard, J. B. & Pybis, J., (2016) Effectiveness of school-based humanistic counselling for psychological distress in young people. Psychology and Psychotherapy, Theory, Research and Practice https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Peter_Pearce2


Cooper, M., Fugard, A., J. B., Pybis, J., McArthur, K. & Pearce, P. (2015) Estimating effectiveness of school-based counselling: Using data from controlled trials to predict improvement over non-intervention change. Counselling & Psychotherapy Research, 15(4), pp 262-273 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/capr.12017/full


Recent Conference Presentations, Reports and Related Professional Activity


2018  : Report : Beecham, J. & Pearce, P. (2018) Cost-effectiveness of school-based humanistic counselling for psychological distress in young people: pilot randomised controlled trial.

2017 : Metanoia Research Seminar. Research Presentation: Dr Peter Pearce ; Developing an RCT of School-Based Humanistic Counselling

2016:  Dr Peter Pearce : Editorial Consultant for new BACP and Sage textbook on Humanistic Counselling for Children and Young people published (2017)

2015-16 : Dr Peter Pearce : Member Evidence Based Counselling Curriculum Group for NHS England working with Health Education England to develop a CYP IAPT counselling curriculum. Developing a standardised evidence-based curriculum, to be implemented by educational providers, for training counsellors/other practitioners to deliver a NICE-compliant evidence based counselling intervention for counselling young people


2015 : Dr Peter Pearce  : British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Conference: An exploration of the impact of school-based person-centred counselling on educational and socio-behavioural factors within three inner city London secondary schools http://www.bacp.co.uk/research/conf_archive/research_conference_2015.php

2015 : Dr Peter Pearce : British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Conference: Estimating effectiveness of school-based counselling: using data from controlled trials to predict improvement over non-intervention change http://www.bacp.co.uk/research/conf_archive/research_conference_2015.php

2014-15 : Dr Peter Pearce  : RCT of Schools Based Humanistic Counselling (SBHC) in collaboration with BACP research Dept and Strathclyde University

2014-15 :  Dr Peter Pearce  : Commissioned author of National Foundation Curriculum for CfD completed October 2015 for BACP

2014-15 : Dr Peter Pearce  : Member Expert Reference Group for BACP to develop a National Curriculum for Humanistic Counselling and Psychotherapy with Children and Young people

2014-15 : Dr Peter Pearce  : Author 3 x e-learning modules for School Counsellors Counselling MindEd a Department of Health initiative with BACP

2014-15 : Dr Peter Pearce  : Member Expert Reference Group for Humanistic Counselling and Psychotherapy with Children and Young people- adapting the Skills for Health Competencies for Humanistic therapy

2014 : Society for Psychotherapy Research Copenhagen Dr Peter Pearce  : Outcomes of Align: a pragmatic RCT of School-Based Humanistic Counselling

2014 : BACP Research Conference Dr Peter Pearce  : Results of the Align Project an RCT of School-based Humanistic Counselling


Current Research Grants and Awards

The Align Study RCT of Schools-Based Person-Centred Counselling (SBPCC) in collaboration with BACP Research Dept and Strathclyde University Full Funding £65,000

ETHOS RCT an ESRC Funded Trial into the Effectiveness and Cost Effectiveness of Humanistic Counselling in Schools in collaboration with the Universities of Roehampton, Sheffield, Manchester, the London School of Economics, University College London, BACP and the National Children’s Bureau. Full Funding £835,000


ETHOS Funding
The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. 

Current Collaborations:

ETHOS research team
The project is being led by Prof. Mick Cooper at the University of Roehampton. 
Co-investigators are 
Dr Peter Pearce, Clinical Lead for the ETHOS Study, Metanoia Institute  
Meg Stafford Project Manager for the ETHOS, Metanoia Institute

Prof. Michael Barkham (University of Sheffield), 
Prof. Peter Bower (University of Manchester), 
Ms Karen Cromarty 
Prof. Jenni Beecham (London School of Economics), 
Dr Andy Fugard (University College London), 
Ms Charlie Jackson (BACP), 
Dr Cathy Street (National Children’s Bureau), and 
Manchester Academic Health Science Centre Trials Co-ordination Unit.




Journal publications



Cooper, M., van Rijn, B., & Chryssafidou, E. (2018). Avatar-based counselling for psychological distress in secondary school pupils: pilot evaluation. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 1-14. doi:10.1080/03069885.2018.1506567


Psyllou, R, Chryssafidou E, Z (2015) Addressing Emotional Difficulties of Primary School Children with the Use of a Primary Intervention Program. International Journal of School and Cognitive  Psychology 2:137. doi:10.4172/ijscp.1000137


Davis J, Chryssafidou E, Zamora J, Davies D, Khan K, Coomarasamy (2007). A Computer based teaching is as good as face-to-face lecture-based teaching of evidence-based medicine: a randomised controlled trial. BMC Medical Education. 7:23. (IF 1.218.)


Chryssafidou E, Arvanitis TN, Khan KS, Coomarasamy A. (2004). South Asian health: what is to be done? Skills of evidence-based medicine need to be taught. British Medical Journal. BMJ. Apr 3;328 (7443):839.  (IF 17.44)



Conference Proceedings


Chryssafidou, E. van Rijn, B. (2018) Theory Development and Research Conference. The European Association of Transactional Analysis (EATA) and the International Association of Relational Transactional Analysis (IARTA) July 5th-6th 2018 London. ‘Routine Outcome Evaluation with trainee therapists working within a range of theoretical orientations including transactional  analysis’


Chryssafidou, E., van Rijn, B., Cooper, M.  (2017) Evaluation of Avatar Based Counselling for Young People. BACP conference. 23rd Annual BACP Research Conference

'Research and reflective practice for the counselling professions', Chester, UK, 19 and 20 May 2017



Porayska-Pomsta, K., Rizzo, P., Damian, I., Baur, T., Andre, E., Sabouret, N., Jones, H., Anderson, K., Chryssafidou, E. (2014). Who's Afraid of Job Interviews? Definitely a Question for User Modelling. The 22nd Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization, Aalborg, Denmark, July 7-11, 2014.


Anderson, K., Andre, E., Baur, T., Bernardini, S., Chollet, M., Chryssafidou, E., Damian, I., Egges, A., Gebhard, P., Jones, H., Ochs, M., Pelachaud, C., Porayska-Pomsta, K., Sabouret, N. (2013). The TARDIS framework: Intelligent Virtual Agents for Social Coaching in Job Interviews In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on

Advances in Computer Entertainment (ACE 2013), Twente, Netherlands, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer.