WASHINGTON – Psychotherapy is
effective, helps reduce the overall need for health services and produces
long-term health improvements, according to a review of research studies
conducted by the American Psychological Association.
Yet, the use of psychotherapy
to treat people with mental and behavioral health issues decreased over the
last decade while the use of medications to address such problems has
increased, according to government and insurance industry data.
"Every day, consumers are
bombarded with ads that tout drugs as the answer to their problems. Our goal is
to help consumers weigh those messages with research-based information about
how psychotherapy can provide them with safe, effective and long-lasting
improvements in their mental and physical health,” said Melba J. T. Vazquez,
PhD, past president of the American Psychological Association who led the
psychotherapy effectiveness review project.
As a result of the
effectiveness review project, the Association’s Council of Representatives last
week adopted a resolution on
psychotherapy effectiveness. The resolution cites more than 50 peer-reviewed
studies on psychotherapy and its effectiveness in treating a spectrum of health
issues and with a variety of populations, including children, members of
minority groups and the elderly.
The resolution also states Key
findings of the resolution:
- Research demonstrates that psychotherapy is effective
for a variety of mental and behavioral health issues and across a spectrum
of population groups. The average effects of psychotherapy are larger than
the effects produced by many medical treatments.
- Large multi-site and meta-analytic studies have
demonstrated that psychotherapy reduces disability, morbidity and
mortality; improve work functioning; and decrease psychiatric
- Psychotherapy teaches patients life skills that last
beyond the course of treatment. The results of psychotherapy tend to last
longer than psychopharmacological treatments and rarely produce harmful
- While medication is appropriate in some instances,
research shows that a combination of medication and psychotherapy is often
most effective in treating depression and anxiety. It should also be noted
that the effects produced by psychotherapy, including those for different
age groups and across a spectrum of mental and physical health disorders,
are often comparable to or better than the effects produced by drug
treatments for the same disorders withoutthe potential for
harmful side effects that drugs often carry.
"As Americans grapple with the
ever-increasing cost of health care, it is important that consumers and those
who make decisions about health care access understand the potential value in
both improved outcomes and cost-saving of psychotherapies,” Vasquez said. "APA
applauds and continues to support collaboration of psychologists with other
health care providers as part of integrated health care teams. Psychotherapies
are highly effective, but only when consumers have access to them.”
For an expanded look at the APA's findings and thoughts on psychotherapy visit the link below.
The American Psychological
Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional
organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's
largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than
137,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through
its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state,
territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the
creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit
society and improve people’s lives.