Can Therapy for Men Buy More Happiness Than Money?

    will-therapy-make-men-happy.jpgResearch has found that therapy could be 32 times more cost effective at making you happy than simply obtaining more money.

    Health Economics, Policy and Law published those findings in "Money or Mental Health: The Cost of Alleviating Psychological Distress with Monetary Compensation versus Psychological Therapy." Here's an excerpt from the press release Therapy 32 More Cost Effective at Increasing Happiness than Money:

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    Chris Boyce of the University of Warwick and Alex Wood of the University of Manchester compared large data sets where 1000s of people had reported on their well-being. They then looked at how well-being changed due to therapy compared to getting sudden increases in income, such as through lottery wins or pay rises. They found that a 4 month course of psychological therapy had a large effect on well-being. They then showed that the increase in well-being from an £800 [$1302] course of therapy was so large that it would take a pay rise of over £25,000 [$40,726] to achieve an equivalent increase in well-being. The research therefore demonstrates that psychological therapy could be 32 times more cost effective at making you happy than simply obtaining more money."

    Let's summarize this -- a $40,000 pay raise won't make you as happy as a couple of months of therapy for men; counseling for men will bring you more lasting joy than winning the lottery.

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    Here are the thoughts of Ryan Howes, Ph.D. from his blog post, Therapy is 32x More Effective Than Money?!? on Psychology Today:

    I'm intrigued because Boyce & Wood attempt to quantify a long-held belief: getting understanding trumps getting stuff. Clients sometimes quit therapy or ask for fee reductions so they can spend money on other things (cars, clothes, new apartment, etc.) to make them feel better. Therapy is not just a purchase, it's also grueling work for the client without the immediate gratification of a new car. Many people cut and run to get that immediate gratification. This research points out the flaw in that logic."

    I wrote Dr. Boyce to see what his research might have to say on this matter. His thoughtful response:

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    The purpose of our research is to demonstrate to people that they may be overestimating the effect that money has on their well-being. We should be questioning whether our current spending patterns are really having the greatest impact on our well-being. Our mental health should be a priority. Having a new car, a bigger house or more expensive jewelry are unlikely to improve our mental health so our research suggests that people might be better off spending money on psychological therapy, such as non-directive counseling."

    Even if you're not a man who's struggling with feeling depressed, counseling can make your life much happier. Give it a try and find out.

    What do you think? If you've been in therapy/counseling, how did it affect your happiness?

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