Does therapy really work?
In 1995, Consumer Reports conducted a study examining the efficacy of therapy. Of the 4,000 therapy clients who responded, nearly 90% reported that they were managing life better after getting help. Those individuals who reported the most discomfort and upset at the beginning of treatment reported the most improvement from psychotherapy.
Some of those surveyed were treated with both psychotherapy and medications such as antidepressants, etc., whereas others were treated with medication alone or "talk" therapy alone. Interestingly, the therapy only group reported just as much improvement as the medication only group. In addition, this study found that therapy which lasted more than six months was significantly more effective than shorter-term therapies. Clients whose treatments were limited by insurance company policies had worse outcomes than those who did not have such limitations.
Statistics aside, nearly one hundred years of experiential evidence has been gathered regarding the efficacy of psychotherapy. Mental health professionals have documented case after case in which mental and emotional distresses were successfully overcome, broken relationships were repaired and the general quality of life vastly improved. These statements are not as easy to prove through strictly statistical means, although much empirical research has been conducted that does support the efficacy of psychotherapy. (This is why more and more insurance companies are increasingly covering mental health treatment these days.) That said, although the majority of therapy clients report significant benefits from treatment, therapy is not for everyone. In the spirit of scientific investigation, the only way to genuinely evaluate the efficacy of therapy may simply be to keep an open mind, try a few sessions and see for yourself.
- Does therapy really work?
- How long will I need to be in therapy?
- How often should I come?
- How can I measure my progress in therapy?
- What if I don't share the same belief system or life circumstances as my therapist?
- What if I get too dependent upon, or attached to, my therapist?
- What if I begin to have negative feelings toward my therapist?
- What if I develop sexual feelings for my therapist?
- Can I use my insurance?