Therapy, or counselling as it is often known is seen by skeptics as something for the weak who don’t have the strength for their own problems. Or for the clueless, who can’t think for themselves. Or for the self-centered who need to hear themselves talk. Or only for women who need to “talk about their problems”.
Counselling is made fun of in the movies, on TV, and in the general media. It is seen as a frivolous expense available as a luxury for the rich.
In sum, counselling is often judged as ineffective or unnecessary.
I saw a study recently that was entitled:
Therapy is 32 times more cost effective at increasing happiness than money.
That headline had me scratching my head, too. That seemed far fetched…so I looked it up.
Chris Boyce of the University of Warwick and Alex Wood of the University of Manchester compared large data sets where 1000s of people had reported on their well-being. They then looked at how well-being changed due to therapy compared to getting sudden increases in income, such as through lottery wins or pay rises. They found that a 4 month course of psychological therapy had a large effect on well-being. They then showed that the increase in well-being from an 800 pound course of therapy was so large that it would take a pay rise of over 25,000 pounds to achieve an equivalent increase in well-being. The research therefore demonstrates that psychological therapy could be 32 times more cost effective at making you happy than simply obtaining more money.
(My understanding is that “an 800 pound course of therapy” is about 4 months of weekly counselling. This is a British study, but I would propose that us Canadians would have similar results)
That’s pretty significant. No, make that REALLY significant.
The article continues:
University of Warwick researcher Chris Boyce said:
“We have shown that psychological therapy could be much more cost effective than financial compensation at alleviating psychological distress. This is not only important in courts of law, where huge financial awards are the default way in which pain and suffering are compensated, but has wider implications for public health and well-being.”
“Often the importance of money for improving our well-being and bringing greater happiness is vastly over-valued in our societies. The benefits of having good mental health, on the other hand, are often not fully appreciated and people do not realise the powerful effect that psychological therapy, such as non-directive counselling, can have on improving our well-being.” (bolding mine)
There are people who are not surprised by this statistic. Many of those people are satisfied clients of Bergen and Associates Counselling or clients of other qualified and competent therapists. I watch people make significant financial commitments to engage in regular counselling, making tough choices in their budgeting. They do so willingly because the fresh and innovative ways that therapy allows them to look at their lives, is, quite simply, worth it.
Counselling is not cheap. No doubt about it.
But of what value is good mental health, a stable marriage, good relationships with your children? My thought: Priceless.
You’re gonna think my point in this post is self serving. Umm..guilty as charged. However, I did not make this stuff up. While it does promote my profession, this post more importantly promotes well-being through the opportunity for you to consider something with careful thought.