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A more hopeful future

Company’s gift supports integration of psychotherapy treatments for adolescents and young adults facing mental illness

It seems that psychotherapy research has taken a backseat to pharmaceutical research in recent years. After all, it’s comparatively easy to quantify the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals: count the milligrams, measure the drug in the blood, and then correlate the data to an outcome.

S. Charles Schulz, M.D., head of the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, and Stephen Setterberg, M.D., president of PrairieCare, a Twin Cities psychiatric treatment services company, say that they’re concerned by this trend.

But psychotherapy research has “progressed tremendously over the past 10 to 20 years,” Setterberg says, “and there is quite a bit of empirical support now for a variety of the psychotherapy approaches that are commonly used.” He believes psychotherapy should play a bigger role in psychiatric practice in general.

“I think that something very precious is lost without that dimension of practice,” he says.

This belief led Setterberg to commit $200,000 to the University to support research in integrative treatment methods, especially those involving psychotherapy, for adolescents and young adults. Setterberg, who received his undergraduate and medical school degrees from the University, says that he hopes the Integrative Treatment Research Fund he’s creating through his company will help to improve the lives of young people living with mental illness.

PrairieCare’s focus on children and adolescents is one reason that the gift is targeted to youth mental health. Another is Setterberg’s belief in the importance of early intervention.

“Brain development is very intensive throughout childhood and adolescence, even up to age 25 or so,” he says. “Because of this, effective psychological and behavioral interventions with younger people are both more likely to show results and to have lasting benefit.”

PrairieCare is an official training site for child psychiatry fellows and medical students at the University, a relationship that Setterberg says he feels brings the excellence of the University into his organization.

“The gift is a kind of reciprocity for that,” he says. “It’s a reflection of how we value that relationship.”

Schulz says the potential impact of the work that will be funded by PrairieCare’s gift is significant.

“It can lead us to provide better care,” he says. “We know that the need to better understand how to best treat children and adolescents, how to best structure and utilize the psychosocial treatments, is crucial. I’m just delighted with our affiliation with PrairieCare and its generosity.”

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