Psychologists aren't the only ones concerned about the decline in psychotherapy's use. In a front-page story in The New York Times in March, psychiatrists revealed frustration about the decline in psychotherapy within their own profession. As the headline noted, "Talk doesn't pay, so psychiatry turns instead to drug therapy."
That's a travesty, APA Chief Executive Officer Norman B. Anderson, PhD, said in a response published in the Times. "There is something inherently wrong with a health-care system that allows a practitioner to earn more for three 15-minute prescription-writing sessions than for a 45-minute therapy session that teaches patients lifelong coping skills and has no adverse physical side effects," he wrote.
The good news? Patients who need psychotherapy will have to turn to psychologists. In fact, Anderson notes, one of the psychiatrists interviewed in the Times article urges his patients to seek help from a psychologist when they need therapy.
That's even better news for patients, since psychologists can get to patients' root problems instead of just relieving their symptoms, says Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, executive director of APA's Practice Directorate.
"If you're a medical doctor, and I come to you with a pain in my gut, you want to solve the pain in my gut," she says. "If I come to you with sleep disturbance, and there's a pill you can give me to make me sleep better, that's what you're going to do. Psychiatrists tend to be much more focused on symptom relief and not so much on how to better equip patients to handle their problems now and in the future."