Patient Preference for Treatment: Psychological vs. Pharmacologic


The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry‘s June issue includes a meta-analysis of studies through August 2011 that assessed patient preferences for treatment of psychiatric disorders. The study, by researchers from McLean hospital, found “a significant 3-fold preference for psychological treatment. Given evidence for enhanced outcomes among those receiving their preferred psychiatric treatment and the trends for decreasing utilization of psychotherapy, strategies to maximize the linkage of patients to preferred care are needed.”

Abstract →

McHugh, R., Whitton, S., Peckham, A., Welge, J., Otto, M.; Patient Preference for Psychological vs Pharmacologic Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 74(6) 595-602

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Doctors,

    Or, people who believe they are doctors, addicted to the word clinical, who believe any human activity, even talking, can be labeled a treatment, who believe they are bona fide medical people working with people they label patients.

    The fact that common sense has to be telegraphed, signaled through the pseudoscience and laughably over-earnest formality of the people who actually believe putting the word clinical in every sentence they type turns them into real doctors.

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  2. Although you’re alot less likely to end up with physical complications from choosing purely psychology instead there’s still plenty to be concerned about.

    So you can see a psychiatrist for 15 minutes for $120 or talk to a psychologist for $150 for an hour. Someone is most likely to still be getting ripped off, you, your insurance company or the government.

    It seems to me that direct assistance would seem like the best thing to try first e.g help a jobless person get a job, a homeless person get housing etc.

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