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WHO Limits Mental Health Treatment Methods - 5-15-24

May 15, 2024 9:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

World Health Organization Limits Mental Health Treatment Methods

PsiAN Petition

This month, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued recommendations for the types of mental health treatment that would redefine the psychotherapeutic treatment methods which should be regarded as “evidence-based”. It is called the “Psychological Interventions Implementation Manual”. To view the manual, please visit

CSWA is concerned about the way that these revisions would limit the types of mental health treatment that are considered “evidence-based”, many of which have been long-established as valid treatment methods by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Medicare, the Mayo Clinic, and many other leading mental health organizations. 

The primary changes affect longer term forms of treatment such as psychodynamic methods. According to the Psychotherapy Advocacy Network (PsiAN), the “recommendations…predominantly endorse behavior therapy (BT) and cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT). This overlooks the significant evidence supporting other therapeutic approaches, including but not limited to psychodynamic therapy. It's likely that these guidelines will restrict access to those approaches by giving insurers, clinics, and policy makers a justification for denying coverage for all but the mostly short-term, structured and symptom-focused treatments.”

Additionally, PsiAN notes that “Behavior therapy (BT) and cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) should not be represented as the sole effective treatments for mental health disorders. While they unquestionably are effective for some patients, a number of independent analyses and meta-analyses of BT/CBT studies have raised significant questions about the strength of the evidence for these approaches which argue against their being represented as a ‘gold standard’”. Some points that support this position are:

  • The replicability and power estimates of many BT/CBT methods in the American Psychological Association’s database were found to be low.
  • The effects of CBT in depressive and anxiety disorders are uncertain, with only a 50% success rate, and even lower remission rates.

CSWA encourages all members to consider signing the PsiAN Petition to WHO, objecting to these arbitrary changes which will harm patients who benefit from psychodynamic treatment. To view and sign the petition, please visit

Clinical social workers should be able to use all mental health treatment methods that have established successful standards of practice, including psychodynamic treatment.

As always, please let me know if you have signed this petition.

Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice

PO Box 105
Granville, Ohio  43023

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