June 26, 2007
Report highlights the benefits of psychotherapy
Irish Examiner: 26th June 2007
Psychotherapy intervention can be more effective than medication alone in treating sufferers of depression, anxiety, insomnia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new report. The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy report published yesterday found that psychotherapy works in two- thirds of cases and called for a more structured usage of it in the health system. Its author, Professor Alan Carr of University College Dublin (UCD), said a national psychotherapy service would be cost-effective by freeing up hospital beds and reducing medical bills for people with psychological illnesses. It concluded: "Psychotherapy is an effective intervention for a wide range of mental health problems in children and adults. Overall, the average treated person fares better after psychotherapy than 74%-84% of untreated people. The average success rate for treated cases ranged from 65% to 72%." The report, commissioned by the Irish Council for Psychotherapy, said: "Those who participate in psychotherapy use less other medical services at primary, secondary and tertiary levels and are hospitalised less frequently than those who do not receive psychotherapy." The author examines a range of literature on various psychological illnesses and treatments, published over ten years, and finds:
• Psychotherapy combined with methadone treatment is more effective in overcoming heroin addiction than methadone alone.
• Psychotherapy helps schizophrenia patients to stick to their medication regime, and helps them to control the negative impact of hallucinations.
• In post-traumatic stress disorder, antidepressants can help short-term recovery, but psychotherapy, which involves exposure to trau- ma-related memories until the patient becomes used to them, results in better long-term recovery.
• For eating disorders like Bulimia, psychotherapy helps patients resolve the is- sues that may cause their eating disorder, and is most effective when combined with medical treatment.
• Therapy is effective in helping 66% of teenage sufferers to overcome depres- sion.
The report also found that sex offenders, perpetrators of domestic violence, drug users and teenage criminals can be helped through psychotherapy, which includes counselling, social work, professional psychiatry and psychiatric nursing. The report also found that psychotherapy can lead to a deterioration of a patients condition in one out of 10 cases. It also recommended a more structured approach to the discipline, including routine evaluation and a code of ethics. Prof Carr said: "There are people out there with psychotherapy plaques outside their doors who are doing strange things that might be doing people harm. We have to protect the public to make sure that this does not happen."