Numerous studies have been conducted in the past which provide evidence for the efficacy of psychotherapy in improving clients’ quality of life, but many prospective clients and critics may cite the long-term costs of psychotherapy as reason to turn to other methods of seeking happiness. Such ideas have been soundly challenged, however, by a recent study produced by researchers at the Universities of Warwick and Manchester, which boldly suggests that psychotherapy may be thirty two times as effective for boosting well-being than receiving a financial windfall. Money woes are often cited as contributing to symptoms of depression and anxiety, and few would propose that experiencing a tight budget, unexpected cost, or period of debt is of no consequence for personal outlook. But receiving money, the study suggests, is only able to increase self-reported happiness in minuscule amounts.
The researchers worked with participants who completed responses on their own self-measured levels of well-being. Some participants were given a four-month course of psychotherapy, and data was collected after the therapy was completed. The change in well-being was compared to self-reports from those who were given financial boosts, such as pay raises. The study found that the increase in well-being from an £800 psychotherapy course was equivalent to a pay raise increase of £25,000, making the psychotherapy thirty two times as powerful as financial windfall.
As efforts to cut state spending turn towards hampering mental health services, the study shows that focusing on providing a wealth of quality mental health care may be far superior than providing simple financial incentives. Just as leading developing nations have not experienced a widespread rise in mental health despite economic growth, suggest the researchers, concentrating on economic stimulus may not provide the answers to helping Americans –and people around the world– feel better about themselves and their lives.
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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