Family therapies reduce visits to the doctor

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Family therapy: save costs by involving relatives

Data from the United States show that family therapy measures can reduce the number of visits to the doctor for some people and thus save costs. At a conference on systemic research in therapy, pedagogy and organizational development, several hundred participants discussed systemic therapy. However, the costs are not covered by the statutory health insurance companies.

Statutory health insurers do not cover costs Systemic therapy, in which systemic relationships and interpersonal relationships in a group are regarded as the basis for the diagnosis and therapy of mental disorders and interpersonal conflicts, is widespread and scientifically recognized worldwide. In Germany, however, it is not paid for by the statutory health insurance in outpatient care. The conclusion of a conference on systemic research in therapy, pedagogy and organizational development, which ended yesterday in Heidelberg, was therefore that there was a definite need for action on this point.

Participants discussed how social systems work Three days, around 300 participants from 23 European countries and the USA discussed how social systems, for example families, neighborhoods, schools or companies, work or do not work. The topics of the symposium were also how these systems can be advised in crisis situations and how these complex interactions can be scientifically examined. The marriage and family therapist at the University of Utah / USA, Professor Russell Crane, reports on his research on the effectiveness and costs of family therapy. The expert had evaluated the data from almost 4,000 adolescents diagnosed as having behavioral disorders. The medical costs for medication and psychotherapy were available to him two and a half years after the end of the treatment.

Family therapies reduce doctor visits Family therapy proved to be inexpensive. For example, the cost of psychotherapy with individual therapy averaged around $ 16,000 and for family therapy in the therapist's office around $ 11,000. Around $ 1,600 was spent on outreach family therapy, where the therapist came home to the family. A study in schizophrenic adults brought similar results. In addition, data from American insurance companies and from the state health service, according, would show that family therapy measures, for example, reduce the number of doctor visits, especially for people who use the doctor very often.

Results transferable to Germany According to the "Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung", conference leader Professor Matthias Ochs commented on the conclusion of the symposium: "The involvement of family members in the treatment has a lasting effect, is cost-effective, increases the acceptance of the client and we also reach the stepchildren therapeutic care. ”So migrants, the elderly, the chronically ill and socially weak people, for whom the inhibition threshold to see a psychotherapist is very high, would also benefit from the systemic approach. According to Ochs, there are many indications that Crane's research results from the US health system could also be transferred to Germany.

Systemic therapy works and saves It was difficult for the conference participants to understand that, compared to other European countries, Germany is the most generously publicly financed for psychotherapy, but at the same time the highest regulated by the state, so that systemic family therapy as an outpatient benefit has not yet been paid for by the statutory health insurers. "Germany is the only country in 36 countries in Europe in which systemic therapy is not equivalent to other scientifically recognized therapy methods for financing healthcare," said the chairman of the German Society for Systemic Therapy, Counseling and Family Therapy (DGSF) Dr. Bjorn Enno Hermans. "That speaks for itself - systemic therapy works and saves and must finally also be available to the population in Germany as a benefit." However, as DGSF Managing Director Bernhard Schorn said, it could take years until the statutory health insurance companies assume the costs a decision is made. (ad)

Image: S. Hofschlaeger /

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