U.S. Military Non-Medical Counseling Programs Demonstrate Benefits for Participants
Oct 23, 2017
Among the counseling supports the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) offers to service members and their families is short-term, solution-focused counseling for common personal and family issues, called non-medical counseling within the DoD. This report evaluates whether non-medical counseling provided by the DoD is effective in improving outcomes and whether effectiveness varies by problem type and/or population.
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This report evaluates two programs offered by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that provide short-term, solution-focused counseling for common personal and family issues to members of the U.S. military and their families. These counseling services are collectively called non-medical counseling within the DoD and are offered through the Military and Family Life Counseling (MFLC) and Military OneSource programs. RAND's National Defense Research Institute was asked to evaluate these programs to determine whether they are effective in improving outcomes and whether effectiveness varies by problem type and/or population. Two online surveys were provided to program participants — the first two to three weeks after their initial session and the second three months later. Surveys were designed to gain information on 1) problem severity and overall problem resolution, 2) resolution of stress and anxiety, 3) problem interference with work and daily life, 4) connection to other services and referrals, 5) experiences with MFLC and Military OneSource programs, and 6) perceptions of non-medical counselors. The majority of participants experienced a decrease in problem severity and a reduction in reported frequency of feeling stressed or anxious as a result of their problem following counseling. These improvements were sustained or continued to improve in the three months after initiation of counseling. Non-medical counseling was not universally successful, however, and a small minority expressed dissatisfaction with the program or their counselor. Collectively these findings suggest a number of policy implications and programmatic improvements of interest to program leadership in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Evaluation Design, Methodology, and Analytic Approach
Severity and Overall Problem Resolution
Resolution of Stress and Anxiety
Interference with Work and Daily Life
Connection to Services and Referrals
Experiences with MFLC and Military OneSource Programs
Perceptions of Non-Medical Counselors
Summary and Conclusions
Data Collection, Weighting, and Analytic Approach
Tables of Significant Subgroup Differences
This research was sponsored by the Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy (ODASD [MC&FP]) and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.
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