Psychotherapy Is Effective, But Not Used Enough: APA

psychiatrist with patient
psychiatrist with patient

Psychotherapy is an effective option for treating people with certain mental or behavioral conditions, but its use has decreased over the past 10 years, according to a new review of studies.

The American Psychological Association conducted the review of more than 50 studies examining the effectiveness of psychotherapy. As a result of the review, the APA adopted a resolution recognizing the effectiveness of psychotherapy into its official policy.

"Every day, consumers are bombarded with ads that tout drugs as the answer to their problems," Melba J. T. Vazquez, Ph.D., the past president of the American Psychological Association, who also led the review of psychotherapy effectiveness studies, said in a statement. "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."

The APA said that psychotherapy is defined as follows:

"Psychotherapy is the informed and intentional application of clinical methods and interpersonal stances derived from established psychological principles for the purpose of assisting people to modify their behaviors, cognitions, emotions, and/or other personal characteristics in directions that the participants deem desirable."

According to the Mayo Clinic, psychotherapy can be a useful tool in treating addictions, depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders and personality disorders. It can also help people who don't have a mental condition, but who are having issues with stress, sleep, sex, conflicts, life changes or anger, the Mayo Clinic said.

While psychotherapy is, in some cases, all a person needs to be treated for his or her problem, drugs are sometimes also needed to help treat the condition, the Mayo Clinic said.

For the full APA resolution, click here.