Document Type


Publication Date



Background: Walk-in counselling has been used to reduce wait times but there are few controlled studies to compare outcomes between walk-in and the traditional model of service delivery.

Aims: To compare change in psychological distress by clients receiving services from two models of service delivery, a walk-in counselling model and a traditional counselling model involving a wait list

Method: Mixed methods sequential explanatory design including quantitative comparison of groups with one pre-test and two follow ups, and qualitative analysis of interviews with a subsample. 524 participants 16 years and older were recruited from two Family Counselling Agencies; the General Health Questionnaire assessed change in psychological distress; prior use of other mental health and instrumental services was also reported.

Results: Hierarchical linear modelling revealed clients of the walk-in model improved faster and were less distressed at the 4-week follow-up compared to the traditional service delivery model. At the 10-week follow-up, both groups had improved and were similar. Participants receiving instrumental services prior to baseline improved more slowly. Qualitative interviews confirmed participants valued the accessibility of the walk-in model.

Conclusions: This study improves methodologically on previous studies of walk-in counselling, an approach to service delivery that is not conducive to randomized controlled trials.

Included in

Social Work Commons