Major Canadian Health Institute Calls For More Psychotherapy Instead of Drugs


A new report by the Institut National d’Excellence en SantĂ© et en Services Sociaux (INESSS), an independent health research organization created to advise the Quebec provincial government on best-evidence guidelines, has called for psychotherapy to become the “front-line treatment choice in the mental-health system,” reported The Globe and Mail.

INESSS “has concluded that psychotherapy is as effective as medication and does a better job at preventing relapse, for the most common – and costly – mental illnesses, depression and anxiety,” stated the Globe. “What’s more, the report found that in countries with more public coverage, psychotherapy is cheaper in the long run than treating moderate depression and anxiety with drugs, the treatment offered most often in Canada’s health-care system.”

The INESSS report stated that, “Compared with pharmacological treatment, psychological interventions have a better incremental cost-effectiveness ratio and greater profitability in the long term,” in part because “the benefits of psychotherapy last longer after the end of treatment than those of medication.”


Quebec health institute calls for psychotherapy as front-line treatment choice (The Globe and Mail, June 25, 2015)

INESSS Website


  1. I do love my province, despite some annoying political issues. First, the child and adolescent branch of the Canadian Psychiatry Association comes out against drugging kids and youth and against using anti-psychotics as sleep aids in all people, and now this very important report on supporting the use of psychotherapy. Maybe a warm wind is now blowing in from the north. I have been very fortunate living in Quebec to be in a province that i more socially minded, and that also allows me to treat people from all socio-economic backgrounds at no cost to them. We are also fortunate to have greater influence from various European schools of thought.
    The proper interpretation of research is crucial in psychiatry and the general mental health field. As this report, and research indicates, short-term numbing of symptoms is not only less useful in the long run, often leading to chronic or recurrent conditions, but is not economically reasonable or advisable.
    Vive le Quebec!! Vive les personnes libres!!

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    • Hate to burst your bubble, Norman, but that warm wind blowing in from Quebec this summer smells distinctly like horse manure.

      Since the passing of Bill 21 in Quebec, doctors have been automatically granted the right to practice (and charge for) psychotherapy whereas professionals with years and years of professional training and experience, deemed potentially “charlatans”, are now unable to legally practice without a permit issued by the Order of Psychologists. Many of these professionals, like creative arts therapists, will in future be denied such a permit, and the way will be paved for the mental health profession to become completely dominated by psychologists, doctors and the pharmaceutical industry.

      Quebec is the Canadian forerunner in tweaking the profession of psychotherapy to become exclusively a treatment of mental disorders as diagnosed by physicians and, soon, psychologists. Thanks to reports like these, and others coming out of the Quebec Coalition for Psychotherapy, the field will soon be completely dominated by the diagnose and prescribe medical model.

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      • When you read the INESS document, you will see that there its primary concern is for psychotherapy as a treatment for (diagnosable) “mental health disorders” like anxiety and depression. It references Bill 21 which clearly circumscribes the evaluation and treatment of the latter as a reserved activity of psychologists. This excludes access to non-medical and non-psychologist psychotherapists who yet have a permit from the Order of Psychologists.

        The Australian plan that Quebec is hoping to use as a model states the following:

        “The Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (Better Access) initiative aims to improve outcomes for people with a clinically-diagnosed mental disorder through evidence-based treatment. Under this initiative, Medicare rebates are available to patients for selected mental health services provided by general practitioners (GPs), psychiatrists, psychologists (clinical and registered) and eligible social workers and occupational therapists.
        What Medicare services can be provided under the Better Access initiative?
        Medicare rebates are available for up to ten individual and ten group allied mental health services per calendar year to patients with an assessed mental disorder who are referred by:

        A GP managing the patient under a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan or
        Under a referred psychiatrist assessment and management plan or
        A psychiatrist or paediatrician.”

        You cab consult the complete fact sheet here:

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  2. When done long-term by a good therapist, psychotherapy is not just equal to, but much better than zombification (i.e. medication) for a variety of emotional distress. It’s too bad they don’t do a study of intensive/long psychotherapy (e.g. 2x/week for 3 years) and compare it to zombification. The difference would be apparent, and the savings for society in the long term would be massive due to the reduced disability (for the psychotherapy group). Such a study could be very threatening to Big Pharma.

    Most of these studies involving giving someone several weeks or months of 1x/week psychotherapy compared to several weeks or months of zombification. A few weeks of therapy is not usually long enough to be transformative, because building a trusting relationship and feeling loved as a person often takes many months and years.

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  3. There is a major problem with studies on psychotherapies that are aimed at deeper emotional change and growth as compared to studies on modalities, including medication, that focus on symptom reduction. In short term studies, as emotional growth therapies encourage emotional expression, these studies should show poorer results when rating only symptoms as compared to symptom reduction focused modalities. In reality, emotional growth therapies show just a good results for most types of problems in the short-term and better results in the long term. It is a misinterpretation of research that tends to promote simplistic and numbing modalities.

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  4. It also looks as though they did not consider side effects of psych drugs, which of course should make for an even stronger recommendation. If they don’t work as well as therapy (or perhaps not at all) and also make people sick, are they not basically functioning as poisons?

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