The Vision for the Centre for Counselling Research

Our bold vision is to be the Canadian centre of excellence for practice-based counselling research. A place where staff, students and community partners will be invited to engage in collaborative projects; a place where practice-based evidence research methodology is mentored; and a work site that is dynamic and highly sought after by research students. A centre of excellence that continues to focus and promote client outcomes.

CCCR Objectives

  • To inform counselling program development though the use of Feedback Informed Therapy (FIT).
  • To support and enhance CCC’s research culture with students, interns, residents and staff.
  • To increase the comfort of counsellors in using measurement tools.
  • To push the boundaries of clinical practice using research to produce practice based evidence.
  • To disseminate the results of our research to a variety of audiences in accessible terms,
    from academia to professionals to the general public.
  • To use practice based evidence research findings as a means to engage in influencing policy work.
  • To link research and practice through community partnerships in order to develop a community of practice.
  • To offer the opportunity for the use of CCC databases to staff, university students and
    academic staff.
  • Provide an opportunity for investors who wish to make a difference in an area of mental and social health research to choose to put their donations in the CCCR.
  • Maintain long-term partnership projects with well-respected academics in the field who will align themselves with the Research Centre.

Unparalleled results: Achievements to date

We have been improving lives for 50 years and our session-by-session measurements have been in place since 1996. We have been visionaries and pioneers in our field. Our deep-rooted focus on practice-based evidence research has improved results for our clients:

    • In 2015, 73.7% of clients improved their overall level of social and mental health and well-being (from 71.9% in 2009, and 69.8% the year before)
    • We are significantly out-pacing sector averages, which have remained stagnant for 35 years. Using our more rigorous analysis of ‘improved’ and ‘recovered’ outcome measures:
      • Since 2007 our clients’ aggregated results improved by 22.3%
      • Over the last 3 years client results improved by 3%
      • Our 2014 results are 33.4% better than baseline data 20

Although we are proud of our results; we know we can do more. We believe our FIT model will fundamentally change the counselling field for the better.

We are also particularly focused on two important factors that will raise the bar even higher in our quest to improve client results.

(1)Predicting negative change: Prevention of treatment failure
Michael Lambert, a renowned expert in counselling research and outcome measurement, states this best: “The power of psychological treatments to assist patients to overcome serious, sometimes incapacitating psychological suffering is well documented and commendable. In the face of this remarkable success there is also the fact that as many as two thirds of treated patients derive little or no benefit from treatments delivered in routine care, with 5% to 10% of treated adults and 15% to 25% of children deteriorating while in treatment. These are problems that need solutions.”20

We are especially focused on increasing the percentage of clients that benefit from counselling. Although we utilize a number of metrics to track our success with clients, the comparisons to Lambert’s baseline research are statistically “our” most rigorous standards. Here, our results are ‘very’ significant.

  • On average, 8% of clients “deteriorate”20
    • Since 2006 our results average 7.6%, with 2015 results improving to 6.6%.
  • On average, 56% of clients are “stable “20
    • Our results averaged at 48% since 2006 and were 47.2% in 2015.
  • The baseline for “improved” and “recovered” is 35%20
    • Our 2015 results were 46.1%.

Our client-focused, practice-based evidence research enables us to immediately put research into practice – directly enhancing client outcomes. As we incorporate research, education and training organization-wide, we are effectively narrowing the gap between knowledge, treatment and lasting change for our clients. We need to share our results and this knowledge more widely.

(2)Discovering the optimal number of sessions for individual clients
Another area of interest for our team is the determining the optimal number of sessions for individual clients.

We know from our own research, that the right combination of individual and group sessions provides the best results. For example, within our depression program, we have determined a winning formula (our Defy Depression Formula), where 6 individual counselling sessions precede group work.

Understanding the optimal number of sessions for clients is of profound importance as there are two widespread public perceptions that are not supported by research results:

  1. That clients must attend therapy sessions for years before obtaining results:
  2. That counselling must be limited because clients will tend to use more psychotherapy than needed:

Increasing the percentage of clients who benefit from counselling and determining the optimal number of session are important goals. Research will lead to solutions which will provide transformative impacts, transformative results.

CCCR Staff

Calgary Counselling Centre CEO: Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner
Calgary Centre for Counselling Research Director: Dr. Sandy Berzins
Staff: 1 Full time Research Assistant

Research Partners & Projects

One of our goals is to provide opportunities for learning based on research performed at the Centre. As of 2003, Calgary Counselling Centre established a research partnership with the University of Calgary, Social Work Department that promises to expand the Centre’s research potential and forge a lasting relationship with students and faculty at the university.

In addition, the Centre maintains a relationship with RESOLVE Alberta, which is a tri-prairie research network that co-ordinates and supports research aimed at ending Domestic Abuse.

We also have academic partnerships with researchers in both Canada and the United States. For example, we work with other researchers from:

  • University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work
  • International Centre of Clinical Excellence (ICE)(Chicago)
  • University of Calgary Mathison Centre for Mental Health Education & Research
  • University of Wisconsin

We have established a Provincial Research Advisory Group who will provide input into our research strategic plan and help to link research and practice through community partnerships. We are also establishing an International Research Advisory Group that includes some of our long-term research partners.

Examples of Past & Present Research/ Evaluation Projects

  • Characteristics of Single Session Clients
  • Long Term Counselling Follow-up Outcomes
  • National Depression Screening Day
  • Trauma Informed Research & Training

Student Project examples:

  • Mental Health of Male Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence
  • Effectiveness of Couples Counselling
  • Relationship between Client Characteristics, Outcomes, & Satisfaction

Student Opportunities
We always have opportunities for student projects. To date, these have included both undergraduate & graduate practicum placements as well as graduate students from departments of Social Work, Psychology, and Community Health Sciences.

We also accept volunteers who wish to gain research experience. Volunteers may assist with tasks such as data entry and reference management.

Contact us