The Cost of Professional Counseling

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10 November 2015
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Counseling
Comments: 5

The Cost of Counseling

Many people in our society forgo the cost of counseling in a effort to save time and money.  Can you put a cost on your mental and physical health?  Can you place a cost of the emotional well being of your children?  Can you place a cost on your marriage?  Most of these things cannot be broken down to a monetary amount.  Let’s take a quick look at the cost to most people when they a deal with a serious issue which needs the assistance a professional counselor.

Let’s suppose you’re suffering from anxiety and depression.  Often times a resulting symptom of anxiety (worry) and depression is insomnia.  Insomnia leads to decreased productivity at work because you’re too exhausted to function well.  You’re not doing your best at work as a result of numerous nights of poor sleep, which can cost you that promotion that you had your eye on.  Insomnia leads to multiple health problems which then leads you to your doctor’s office, then not only are you missing work that day or part of the day but you’re also paying for the office copay.  Then you pay the prescription copay for the medication that is often prescribed by primary care physicians to treat insomnia and depression.   I’m not even going to go into possible side effects of various prescription sleep medications and antidepressants, that’s another blog post.  Let’s briefly look at how the manage health care companies want you to treat your anxiety and depression.

The American Psychology Association quoted Psychiatrist Jay M. Pomerantz, MD who knows first hand the pressure to prescribe medications.  He stated:

The behavioral health management companies that now dominate the field have a good reason to prefer medication to psychotherapy:  They don’t have to pay for patients’ pills.
Managed-care companies typically “carve out” the mental health portion of patients’ medical care, assigning that responsibility to specialized behavioral health companies.  These companies, however, cover only the cost of providing patients with access to mental health providers and facilities.  Responsibility for paying prescription drug costs lies with the original managed-care companies.  Since behavioral health companies must squeeze psychotherapy costs out of tight budgets, it’s not surprising that they favor general practitioners over psychotherapists and psychopharmacological solutions over psychotherapeutic ones.  By doing so, they shift costs back to the managed-care companies themselves.
Even more importantly, behavioral health carve-outs typically have a short-term perspective when they consider their bottom lines.  While medication gets doled out over long stretches of time, psychotherapy is typically provided in short but intensive periods. Because health plans’ budgets focus on expenses in a given year, medication has an obvious short-term advantage no matter what the eventual long-term cost.
Just do the math, pharmacotherapists may keep depressed patients on expensive antidepressants for the rest of their lives.  If you can get with four months of psychotherapy the same benefits you get from a year and a half to two years of continuous medication, you begin to break even after about a year’s time even though it’s more expensive upfront to provide psychotherapy.  If the benefits extend over a half-decade or decade, your savings really start piling up.  But managed-care folks don’t think that way.”
To read this full article go to: http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan00/pr2.aspx

So does professional counseling really work?

The CEO of The American Psychology Association, Dr. Norman B. Anderson stated

“the American Psychological Association studied the peer-reviewed literature examining the effectiveness of psychotherapy.  The research showed that psychotherapy is indeed effective, that it helps reduce the overall need for health services and that it produces long-term health improvements.  Psychotherapy can teach people coping skills they can continue to use throughout their lives.
Yet, the use of psychotherapy to treat mental and behavioral health issues decreased over the last decade, while the use of drugs to address such problems has increased, according to government and insurance industry data.  For some problems, such as anxiety and mild to moderate depression, psychotherapy alone is often the best first treatment option.”
To read this full article go to: http://www.apa.org/research/action/this-is-psychology/psychotherapy.aspx

Let’s look at the cost of counseling versus other negative things that can happen in your life.  You can Google these figures for yourself, these costs are averages across the nation although I attempted to find average cost in Texas when those figures were available.

COST STATISTICS
Problem Low Cost Average Cost High Cost Emotional Cost
Divorce $1,500 $15,000 $40,000+ High
Drinking &

Driving

$2,000 $4,000 $24,000+ High
Cost of child not completing high school unknown  $13,706 in state expenditures

 

Costs our nation about $260,000 in lost wages, taxes, and productivity per drop out. High
Individual Counseling $900

(8 sessions,

2 assessments)

$1,740

(16 sessions,

2 assessments)

$3,420

(32 sessions,

2 assessments)

Healing

When you take a serious look at what various alternatives to counseling can cost you counseling can begin to look cheap in comparison!  Think of the emotional pay off when you can finally have a fulfilling relationship with your spouse or an estranged parent.  Or have better communication with your teenager who has shut you out of their life and you see a dark future looming in front of them. Professional counselors want to assist you in becoming the best version of you based upon your goals, not ours.  We don’t want to throw another pill at you, or give you some nice little saying to stick on your Facebook wall.  We want to go on a journey with you to improve your relationship with others and with yourself!

                                                                                        couples-counseling-happy-outcome-16170697

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5 responses on “The Cost of Professional Counseling

  1. Very interesting article….I agree, being mentally and emotionally well is well worth the cost!

  2. Megan R. Lee, LPC-S says:

    This is a great post because it puts into the perspective what is valuable to us as a society. People waste money of material things everyday. When your leg is broken, you go to a physician. When your heart is broken shouldn’t you come to us?

  3. I appreciate you posting the comparison of financial costs regarding counseling and other actions. I believe it’s important to have this comparison to share with our loved ones we care for them (and ourselves!). Thank you for this article.

  4. Veronica Swink says:

    Good read! Thanks for sharing. I especially like the comparison of costs of mental/social issues vs cost of counseling, very insightful. There needs to be more public education about the benefits of counseling to decrease the stigma, shame, etc.

  5. Yvette Malone says:

    I do not believe that there could ever be a price on anyone’s health; it does not really matter whether it is mental or physical. Our health is what keeps us alive. Great post.

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