The role of counselling in FDR: Re-drawing professional boundaries

Karine Hamilton, Edith Cowan University
Pamela J. Henry, Edith Cowan University

This article was originally published as: Hamilton, K. , & Henry, P. J. (2011). The role of counselling in FDR: Re-drawing professional boundaries. Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, 22(3), 166-172. Original article available here


The recent establishment of compulsory alternative dispute resolution for separating families in Australia has propelled increasing numbers of families through newly formed family relationship centres (FRCs) in which families engage in non-litigious methods of managing separation, such as FDR and counselling. This article reports on the experience of counsellors working with referrals from a FRC in Midland, Western Australia. Interviews with the counsellors revealed that the processes of FDR and counselling intersect in the reformed family law system in significant ways. At times, these intersections produce certain tensions which relate to differing professional norms, such as those regarding client confidentiality and the goal-focused outlook of FDR versus the therapeutic intentions of counselling.