Skip to content

Psychotherapy Is Worth It

A Comprehensive Review of Its Cost-Effectiveness

Edited by Susan G. Lazar, M.D.
Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry

  • ISBN 978-0-87318-215-7
  • Item #7215

View Pricing

List Price

APA Members

20% off

APA Resident-Fellow Members

25% off

Buying In Canada or Europe?


In Psychotherapy Is Worth It: A Comprehensive Review of Its Cost-Effectiveness, edited by Susan G. Lazar, M.D., and co-authored with members of the Committee on Psychotherapy of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, surveys the medical, psychiatric and psychological literature from 1984 to 2007 that is relevant to the cost-effectiveness of all kinds of psychotherapy. The volume explores the cost of providing psychotherapy in relation to its impact both on health and on the costs to society of psychiatric illness and related conditions.

Written for psychotherapists, psychiatric benefit providers, policy makers, and others interested in the cost-effectiveness of providing psychotherapeutic treatments, this book analyzes the burden of mental illness, particularly in the United States, and the enormous associated costs to society that constitute a chronic, insufficiently recognized crisis in the health of our nation. The authors point out that in the United States nearly 30% of the population over the age of 18 has a diagnosable psychiatric disorder and yet only about 33% of those treated receive minimally adequate care. In fact, most people with mental disorders in the United States remain untreated or poorly treated, leading to loss in productivity, higher rates of absenteeism, increased costs, morbidity and mortality from medical illnesses, and loss of life through suicide.

This book provides a systematic and comprehensive review of 25 years of medical literature on the cost-effectiveness of psychotherapy and discusses the:

  • Epidemiology of mental illness, including prevalence and treatment rates
  • Misconceptions and stigmas associated with psychiatric illness and the provision of psychotherapy and how they affect those most in need of care
  • Cost-effectiveness of psychotherapy for the major psychiatric disorders as well as savings that psychotherapy can yield in increased health, work productivity, lives saved, and medical and hospital related costs

For instance, in a review of 18 studies conducted from 1984 to 1994, psychotherapy was found to be cost-effective in treating patients with severe disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder, and led to improved work functioning and decreased hospitalization. Likewise, studies point to the enhancement of outcomes when psychotherapy is used in conjunction with medical therapies in the treatment of cancer, heart disease, and other prevalent, chronic diseases.

Psychotherapy Is Worth It: A Comprehensive Review of Its Cost-Effectiveness concludes that studies confirm psychotherapy works for many conditions, is cost-effective, and is not over-used by those persons not truly in need. A treatment that is cost-effective is not cheap; rather, it can provide effective medical help at a cost acceptable to society, in comparison both to other effective treatments for the same condition and to medical treatments for other classes of mental disorder.


  • Contributors
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. Psychotherapeutic and Psychosocial Interventions in Schizophrenia: Clinical Outcomes and Cost-Effectiveness
  • Chapter 3. Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Chapter 4. Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Chapter 5. Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
  • Chapter 6. Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Depression
  • Chapter 7. Psychotherapy and Psychosocial Interventions in the Treatment of Substance Abuse
  • Chapter 8. Psychotherapy for Patients With Medical Conditions
  • Chapter 9. Psychotherapy for Children and Adolescents
  • Chapter 10. The Place of Long-Term and Intensive Psychotherapy
  • Chapter 11. Epilogue
  • Subject Index
  • Index of Treatment Studies


    Gerald Adler, M.D.
    Jules Bemporad, M.D.
    Joel Gold, M.D.
    James Hutchinson, M.D.
    Susan G. Lazar, M.D.
    William Offenkrantz, M.D.
    Lawrence H. Rockland, M.D.
    Allan Rosenblatt, M.D. (deceased)
    Robert J. Waldinger, M.D.

About the Authors

Susan G. Lazar, M.D., is Past Chair of the Committee on Psychotherapy, Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine, and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; and Supervising and Training Analyst at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute.

This is a long awaited essential piece of integrative work that finally communicates the value of psychotherapy using the most effective universal currency, money. The book is the best and most comprehensive compilation of information to date on the cost of and benefit from psychotherapy. It is authoritative and even-handed, informative and never shirks complexity. In addition, almost as a bonus, a massive body of information is presented in a highly accessible, readable and stimulating style. It is an essential resource for anyone trying to make a case for psychotherapy services, whether this is for an individual case, a local service or a national healthcare system. A true achievement!—Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., DClinPsy, FBA, FBPS, FBPsS, Head of Department, Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology

In this volume, Dr Lazar and her authors move us forward toward our goals of evidence based, cost effective, available and destigmatized psychotherapeutic care for our patients.—Robert J. Ursano, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry & Neuroscience & Chair of Dept of Psychiatry at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; Director for Center for Study of Traumatic Stress

As we redesign health care financing in the United States, Psychotherapy Is Worth It is a must read. It is a lucid, scholarly, tightly edited examination of the costs and benefits of psychotherapy for a wide range of psychiatric and medical disorders. Health care planners, psychotherapists, and physicians cannot afford to overlook this book.—David Spiegel, M.D., Willson Professor and Associate Chair, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine

In this much-needed, compelling, and well-researched volume, Dr. Lazar and The GAP Committee On Psychotherapy bring to light, in very accessible language, what psychotherapists witness first-hand and what the public-at-large, including policy-makers, needs to know about mental health and its startling connection to economics. Armed with scientific data about the efficacy of and necessity for psychotherapy, the authors underscore the ameliorative effects and, crucial in today's economic climate, the cost-effectiveness of engaging in psychotherapy in response to wide-ranging physical and emotional problems. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in reducing human suffering and the enormous fiscal toll that it perpetuates.—William J. Coburn, Ph.D., Psy.D., Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology

Related Products

Become an APA Member
Join Now