Group psychedelic therapy: empirical estimates of cost-savings and improved access

This economic analysis (2023) from two psychedelic therapy trials (MDMA-PTSD & psilocybin-MDD) with group and individual therapy aims to assess clinician time, costs, and patient access. Group therapy demonstrated cost savings of 50.9% for MDMA-PTSD and 34.7% for psilocybin-MDD, potentially reducing the need for full-time equivalent clinicians by 6,711 for MDMA-PTSD and 1,159 for psilocybin-MDD in the U.S., leading to projected savings of up to $10.3 billion and $2.0 billion, respectively, over ten years. Adopting group therapy protocols is suggested to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and address the shortage of trained clinicians, thereby improving access to psychedelic-assisted therapies.

Abstract of Group psychedelic therapy: empirical estimates of cost-savings and improved access

Objective: To compare group and individual psychedelic-assisted therapy in terms of clinician time, costs and patient access.

Methods: Using 2023 data from two group therapy trial sites, one using 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and one using psilocybin to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), we compared overall variable costs, clinician costs and clinician time required by therapy protocols utilizing groups versus individual patient therapy. Using published literature, we estimated the prevalence of adults with PTSD and MDD eligible for treatment with psychedelic therapy and projected the savings in time and cost required to treat these prevalent cases.

Results: Group therapy saved 50.9% of clinician costs for MDMA-PTSD and 34.7% for psilocybin-MDD, or $3,467 and $981 per patient, respectively. To treat all eligible PTSD and MDD patients in the U.S. in 10 years with group therapy, 6,711 fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) clinicians for MDMA-PTSD and 1,159 fewer for FTE clinicians for psilocybin-MDD would be needed, saving up to $10.3 billion and $2.0 billion respectively, discounted at 3% annually.

Conclusion: Adopting group therapy protocols where feasible would significantly reduce the cost of psychedelic-assisted therapies. By enhancing the number of patients served per clinician, group therapy could also ameliorate the anticipated shortage of appropriately trained clinicians, thereby accelerating access to these promising new therapies.”

Authors: Elliot Marseille, Christopher S. Stauffer, Manish Agrawal, Paul Thambi, Kimberly Roddy, Michael Mithoefer, Stefano M. Bertozzi & James G. Kahn

Summary of Group psychedelic therapy: empirical estimates of cost-savings and improved access


Increasing evidence suggests that psychedelic therapies may provide breakthrough solutions for difficult-to-treat psychiatric disorders. This renewed focus has attracted philanthropic and commercial investment, enabling further research, expanded clinical trials, and the development of innovative pharmaceutical approaches.

For psychedelic therapies to be widely and equitably accessed, a variety of service delivery issues must be resolved. One strategy is to substitute typical treatment protocols that serve one patient in each session with protocols that include at least some sessions with two or more patients.

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Group psychedelic therapy: empirical estimates of cost-savings and improved access

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Marseille, E., Stauffer, C., Agrawal, M., Thambi, P., Roddy, K., Mithoefer, M., ... & Kahn, J. G. Group psychedelic therapy: Empirical estimates of cost-savings and improved access. Frontiers in Psychiatry14, 1293243.

Study details

Compounds studied
MDMA Psilocybin

Topics studied
Depression PTSD Economics

Study characteristics
Meta-Analysis Theory Building


Authors associated with this publication with profiles on Blossom

Elliot Marseille
Elliot Marseille is a health economist specializing in psychedelics and HIV/AIDS, focusing on cost-effectiveness in global health challenges.

Michael Mithoefer
Michael Mithoefer is a psychiatrist and a Clinical Investigator and acting Medical Director of MAPS Public Benefit Corporation.


Institutes associated with this publication

Global Initiative for Psychedelic Science Economics
The Global Initiative for Psychedelic Science Economics (GIPSE) is a network of health economists dedicated to achieving the potential of psychedelic therapies for high-priority mental health conditions. 

University of California Berkley
The UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP) is exploring psychedelics as tools for understanding the brain and mind, enhancing well-being, and deepening spirituality.

Sunstone Therapies
Sunstone Therapies is dedicated to the development and implementation of innovative therapies for individuals affected by cancer and other conditions.

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