Decrease in Anxiety, Depression in Ontarians Receiving Psychotherapy from Family Service Ontario Agencies

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Average client results indicate improvement from moderate to mild severity following short-term intervention.

August 25, 2020 – TORONTO, ON – In first-of-their kind results in the province, data from the Family Service Ontario Demonstration Project show that average client anxiety and depression decreased from moderate to mild severity after receiving short-term psychotherapy from Family Service Ontario agencies. These results help position Family Service Ontario agencies as leaders in mental health service delivery and outcome measurement.

The design of the Family Service Ontario Demonstration Project complemented the Ontario government’s Increasing Access to Structured Psychotherapy (IASP) project by using similar measures and timelines. Family Service Ontario’s project produced comparable results to year one of the United Kingdom’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) project that the government is using as the benchmark for psychotherapy success. Of clients who completed treatment:

  • 61% showed reliable improvement in anxiety and depression (vs. 64% IAPT year one)
  • 42% showed reliable recovery from anxiety and depression (vs. 43% IAPT year one)

“The Demonstration Project shows the value of our agencies’ clinical therapists,” said Family Service Ontario board chair Alan McQuarrie. “That Family Service agency psychotherapy can decrease client anxiety and depression from moderate to mild severity in fewer sessions than recommended in the UK’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies project demonstrates the highly qualified, organized, and outcome-oriented workforce ready to roll-out the Ontario government’s psychotherapy stepped care initiatives.”

Over 18 months (September 2018-March 2020), 28 participating Family Service Ontario members collaborated to create a framework and data set to demonstrate client outcomes. Using the Ontario government’s preferred Greenspace platform for measurement, agencies tracked psychotherapy progress and outcomes for adults seeking help for anxiety and depression. The project focused on “therapy as usual” where Family Service Ontario agency clinicians treated clients with multi-modal, evidence-based interventions including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Michelle Bergin, Family Service Ontario board member and Demonstration Project spokesperson, added, “Family Service Ontario agency clinicians are registered social workers and/or registered to practice psychotherapy in Ontario, and 200 of these professionals participated in the Demonstration Project. Clinicians attend regular monthly clinical supervision and can provide multi-language services based on the needs of local communities.”

Family Service Ontario agencies have been providing evidence-based psychotherapy as a core competency for over 50 years. This report confirms that early-intervention psychotherapy from Family Service agencies helps avoid mental health crises and improves client flow by diverting Ontarians toward cost-effective, community-based treatment and away from expensive hospital and primary care services.

Agencies operate in more than 125 communities across the province and have no waitlists to provide services. There are no OHIP or physician-referral requirements to make an appointment with a Family Service Ontario agency. Agencies offer sliding-scale fees and never turn anyone away due to an inability to pay for treatment to ensure mental health interventions are accessible to everyone.