Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money: Study

For well-being, a $1,300 round of treatment equals a $41,000 pay raise, researchers say

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SATURDAY, Nov. 28, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Psychological therapy may be much more effective at making people happy than getting a raise or winning a lottery prize, suggests an English study.

Researchers analyzed data on thousands of people who provided information about their mental well-being and found that the increase in happiness from a $1,329 course of therapy was so significant that it would take a pay raise of more than $41,542 to achieve an equal boost in well-being.

That suggests that therapy could be as much as 32 times more cost-effective at improving well-being than simply getting more money, the researchers said.

The study was published online Nov. 18 in the journal Health Economics, Policy and Law.

"We have shown that psychological therapy could be much more cost effective than financial compensation at alleviating psychological distress," said study author Chris Boyce, of the University of Warwick. "This is not only important in courts of law, where huge financial rewards 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," Boyce explained. "The benefits of having good mental health, on the other hand, are often not fully appreciated and people do not realize the powerful effect that psychological therapy, such as non-directive counseling, can have on improving our well-being."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about emotional health.

SOURCE: University of Warwick, news release, Nov. 20, 2009

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