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Questions on the Couch

Researchers spar over how best to evaluate psychotherapy

By
1:49pm, November 1, 2005

These are the times that try psychotherapists' souls. Federal and state mental-health budget cuts have reduced the number of people who can afford one-on-one psychotherapy sessions to address their problems. Managed care companies demand to see proof that various psychological treatments work, and even then, they reimburse the cost of 2 or 3 months of psychotherapy at most. Meanwhile, in slick television commercials and in the pages of magazines, pharmaceutical firms tout pills for depression and other mental ailments as superior to old-fashioned talk therapy. Although psychiatrists, who are physicians, can prescribe these drugs, most psychotherapists—including psychologists, social workers, and clergy—cannot.

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