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Domestic Violence Prevention:Online Services for Prisoners

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The overall consensus of the reports referred to suggests that a lack of consistency and access confines the effectiveness of Australia’s current approach to domestic violence. Many of these reports support a more cohesive and formulated long-term approach to domestic violence, which will have the ability to rehabilitate offenders and address their problematic behaviours more effectively. Online services should be part of this approach.

While there is some level of online or telephone counselling services available in Australia, they do not have the same level of accessibility and flexibility demonstrated in other countries such as the United Kingdom where 90% of counsellors and psychotherapists registered on Counselling Directory now offer online, email or telephone counselling services with online chat, email, Skype or telephone counselling.[1] Depending on the provider, therapy can be free through the NHS scheme. Private therapists will typically charge between £10 and £60 per session, with fees often scaled to meet the income of the individual.[2]

In Australia, on the other hand, instead of a vast directory, there are individual organisations offering specialised counselling for issues such as domestic violence or mental health.

[1] Counselling Directory, Online and telephone counselling (2016) <http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/online-counselling.html>.

[2] British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy, What is therapy? – Cost, Counselling and Psychotherapy – it’s good to talk <http://www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk/what-is-therapy/cost>.


There are a number of benefits to online support services, which include: [1]

  • Accessibility: overcomes barriers that may preclude others from seeking therapy and encourage those who are wary of face-to-face confrontation, such as those suffering from social phobias or anxiety.
  • Convenience: 24-hour access.
  • Affordability: may be more economical.
  • Anonymity: without concerns of bias or judgement for action.
  • Provides more ways of communication for people who experience difficulty expressing themselves verbally, and it encourages clients to express themselves in more thoughtful ways – having a written record will also provide for later assessments.
  • Can assist with re-integration into society as inmates become accustomed to technological changes and acquire new skills necessary for future employment. [2]

Many comparative studies suggest that online services should be considered as effective as face-to-face counselling services. These opinions provide the basis for support to utilise these programs in Australia. However, this report suggests that further research must be conducted in order to determine the long-term effectiveness of online services as compared with traditional face-to-face counselling.[3] Further reports highlighted that online therapy delivers the same satisfaction as face-to-face counselling at a reduced cost of approximately 10% per participant. [4] In particular, online counselling is seen to be particularly effective in addressing issues of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) with participants displaying greater improvement than those engaged in traditional support programs.

[1]Reach Out, ‘Online Counselling: Pros and Cons’<http://au.professionals.reachout.com/online-counselling-pros-and-cons>.

[2] Australian Institute of Family Studies, ‘Online counselling, therapy and dispute resolution: A review of research and its application to family relationship services’ (2009) <https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/online-counselling-therapy-and-dispute-resolution-review#benefits>; Lawrence Murphy et al, ‘Client Satisfaction and Outcome Comparisons of Online and Face-to-Face Counselling Methods’ (2009) British Journal of Social Work 39 (4), 627, 638.

[3]Barak, A., Hen, L., Boneil-Nissim, M., & Shapira, N. (2008). A comprehensive review and a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of Internet-based psychotherapeutic interventions. Journal of Technology in Human Services26(2), 109-160.

[4] Breakthrough, ‘Is Breakthrough effective?’ (2016)


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