The provision of psychotherapy: an international comparison

Stefan Priebe (The London School of Medicine Queen Mary, University of London)
Donna Wright (The London School of Medicine Queen Mary, University of London)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Publication date: 1 September 2006


There has been a recent initiative in England to establish a wider provision of psychotherapy. Studying the models of psychological treatment and experiences in other countries may enable policy makers in England to learn lessons and avoid pitfalls. This paper assesses and compares the provision of psychotherapy for adults in a selected number of European and non‐European countries. A structured list of psychotherapy features was used to collect information from each country on the number of psychotherapists, professional qualifications, the settings and models of psychotherapy, the referral procedures, funding arrangements, quality management and outcome assessments. These data were then compared in a non‐systematic way. Comparison of levels of provision was the most difficult to establish, but the findings suggest that psychotherapy that is broadly free at the point of entry is more widely available in other EU countries than in England. They also show that the plans currently being discussed for a psychotherapy service in England differ from those provided in most of the other countries in this study. The differences include the lack of statutory accreditation rules and lower qualification thresholds for psychotherapists, the concept of treatment centres, the low number of sessions, and the regular assessment of outcome data. Therefore, based on this comparison, the necessity of these features, their priority and possible alternatives may need to be considered.



Priebe, S. and Wright, D. (2006), "The provision of psychotherapy: an international comparison", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 12-22.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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