Psychotherapy can feel expensive in terms of time, money, and energy spent for many patients. Fortunately, an exhaustive new study by The Group for The Advancement of Psychiatry has demonstrated that it is indeed worth the time and money.
Leaving a person’s condition untreated not only has costs in terms work functioning, substance abuse problems and increased medical expenses, but also costs in terms of personal anguish, increased marital difficulties, decreased immune system and increased child rearing difficulties. Unfortunately, despite the fact that 50% of the population needs to see a therapist or counselor at some point in their lives, there are often many obstacles to receiving treatment. Denial, ignorance, and prejudice against those that seek treatment all play a part in mental conditions being undertreated. Furthermore, unlike skin cancer or a broken leg, responsiveness to treatment can vary greatly from patient to patient. Many therapists use widely differing techniques as well, and the quality of treatment can vary widely from novice to experienced clinicians, all making some patients wonder whether treatment is helping at all.
Study after study shows that patients who receive treatment end up spending less money on the costly aspects of their conditions, making their counseling cost effective. Anxiety disorders, for example, account for 31% of all mental health costs. Those that receive psychotherapy have better outcomes and suffer from fewer symptoms than those that are maintained on medication alone. They also utilize fewer medical services, abuse fewer substances, and miss work less often – saving money as a result. Other disorders such as depression, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse disorders show similar outcomes when they are treated with psychotherapy or counseling.
Unfortunately, sometimes shortsighted frugality, a lack of information, or shame can interfere with people getting the help that they need. Psychotherapy, despite seeming expensive, is less expensive emotionally and financially than not treating the problem.