The problem with psychotherapy…

The problem with psychotherapy’s image

The-CouchThis recent article from the New York Times was sent around to everyone in the Clinical program last week and thought it was worth posting. It’s written by Dr. Brandon Gaudino, a Clinical Psychologist and Professor at Brown University. He starts out with a sobering statistic:

Psychotherapy is in decline. In the United States, from 1998 to 2007, the number of patients in outpatient mental health facilities receiving psychotherapy alone fell by 34 percent, while the number receiving medication alone increased by 23 percent.

However, this is not for a lack of need because studies have shown that people still have a preference for psychotherapy over medications. The author argues that the problem with this is not by a decrease in need, but a decrease in image on our part. What I mean and what this article states is that there is a clear problem in the way psychotherapy is perceived. This is exactly what I was talking about from Day1 I started this blog! People still think that psychotherapy is something you sit on a therapist’s couch for 6 six years, hammer out all your issues from birth to present and go about your ways.

Primary care physicians, insurers, policy makers, the public and even many therapists are largely unaware of the high level of research support that psychotherapy has.

He said it beautifully. Me, my professors, my cohort-mates, everyone affiliated with USC have access to this huge amount of literature on mental illness and new treatments, which is all great! BUT, people outside of this academic circle usually don’t have access to such things. It’s really unfortunate the way the system has been created. This is not meant to say that people outside of academia aren’t great clinicians or don’t read journal articles, but there is definitely divide and a difference in ability to access information.

If there was an unfortunate situation where you or a loved one had cancer, wouldn’t you want to be treated at a great facility that had access to the best medicine and knew the most cutting edge treatments? Well, the same thing applies to psychology. You want to see a therapist who uses evidence-based treatments that have been scientifically supported.

Many therapists are contributing to the problem by failing to recognize and use evidence-based psychotherapies (and by sometimes proffering patently outlandish ideas). There has been a disappointing reluctance among psychotherapists to make the hard choices about which therapies are effective and which — like some old-fashioned Freudian therapies — should be abandoned.

This isn’t true for everybody, but it’s naive to think that there aren’t some therapists who haven’t moved on. Is there validity to the foundation they set to psychology? Perhaps, but just as medicine has progressed, so has psychology.

We need to start investing more in effective psychotherapies. Prescriptions for mental disorders can be helpful in the short-term, but study after study has shown, that modern psychotherapy techniques can provide better outcomes than medication alone. Also, for many psychological treatments, psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy can provide the best outcomes. However, one thing is for sure, more weight should be put on the effectiveness of therapy.

Related links:

Rubin Khoddam, PhD Clinical Psychology student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.

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Categories: Articles, Therapy

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3 replies

  1. thank you for this information.A psychotherapist can help you relax your mind and body. And thus you can control the anxiety, depression and other mental state.


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