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Excellent results from online Domestic Abuse Counselling Service (DACS)

Last Friday, Laura Viliardos and Jeannette Roddy presented the findings from DACS at the University of Salford to the BACP Research Conference in Leeds. The service, set up by Jeannette Roddy, was designed to be fully inclusive for anyone who experienced domestic abuse. It also uses her model of practice (Roddy, 2014) and trains counsellors based on the Domestic Violence Counselling Competency Framework (Roddy and Gabriel, 2019), the same models as we use within Dactari.

The results published at the conference showed:

1. Diversity of client group at least matches the ONS statistics for Domestic Abuse reporting (31% male, 27% non-white-British, 15% non-heterosexual), a much more diverse group than usually reported in domestic support services.

2. For those clients attending a first counselling session, nearly 80% went on to complete more than 4 sessions (the time required to ‘settle’) of counselling. Once clients start counselling, they tend to stay with us for a while and gain the benefit of the counselling.

3. The levels of emotional distress measured for all client groups were, on average, moderately severe for anxiety and depressive symptoms (GAD-7 and PHQ-9) on presentation at DACS, falling to mild/moderate symptoms after 12 sessions, on average. There were no significant differences across client groups in presentation or outcomes. This showed clearly that people with different sexuality, genders, faith and ethnicity experience similar levels of mental health distress as a result of domestic abuse. An inclusive service is vital to supporting those who have experienced abuse.

4. The measures of emotional distress were much higher than reported for clients using the general IAPT service. However, the levels measured were very close on both presentation and outcome to the PTSD service which showed the highest level of distress of any IAPT service. It is important to note, however, that the service provided processing domestic abuse experiences was different to that provided in a focused PTSD service. This outcome confirmed something that the counsellors had known for a while, that clients arrived for counselling feeling very distressed and left feeling much better. Having the data is helpful in showing what people have known intuitively for a while.

This evaluation shows that the model of practice and training programme have great promise for working with people who have experienced domestic abuse. A more substantive analysis of the clinic data will be undertaken later in the year to confirm these preliminary findings.

Perhaps more importantly, it shows that the significant impact on mental health that domestic abuse can have on whoever has experienced the domestic abuse, and perhaps also how helpful counselling can be within a specialist environment designed to work with high levels of distress.

For more information about the findings please contact or

For information about the counselling model or accessing online counselling or counsellor training, please contact or visit our website at

Best wishes


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