Interventions for benzodiazepine withdrawal: Perceptions of benzodiazepine counsellors

Gerald Wurf, Alice Swing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Governments have been urged to adopt real-time prescription monitoring in order to manage and reduce risks associated with the long-term use of sleep and anti-anxiety medications. Given this imperative, accessible psychological interventions for benzodiazepine (BZD) dependency and withdrawal are essential. The aim of this study was to understand how counsellors support clients assessed as suitable for community-based drug withdrawal services to reduce their BZD use. Six BZD counsellors and two service coordinators were interviewed. Counsellors collaborated with their clients and prescribing doctors to develop individualised taper schedules that were in line with recommended clinical guidelines. Psychoeducation underscored a range of evidence-based interventions, and a trauma-informed approach was considered essential in working with clients to reduce their use of BZDs. Continuity in care was affected by the degree of prescribing doctor support for the taper. Counsellors reported that workforce sustainability was enhanced by quality clinical supervision and professional development opportunities. The role of counsellors in providing accessible, community-based interventions for clients to reduce their use of BZDs was supported. Psychosocial support, combined with a medically supervised taper, has a strong evidence base and implications for client-centred interventions are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514-523
Number of pages10
JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
Issue number2
Early online date31 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


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