Will Psychotherapy Help Me?
Therapy is a big commitment. It takes a significant amount of time, money, and energy. Before taking the first steps towards improving your mental wellbeing, it makes sense to ensure that it’s the right move for you.
Increasingly, we hear phrases like, “everyone could use therapy”; but is that true? Does everyone need therapy? Will therapy work for you?
As an intake specialist completing a Master’s in Counselling Psychology, I have experience working with clients who have benefited from therapy. I also know that it’s not something that works for everyone.
Let’s break down why therapy works for some and not for others and figure out if it’s the right decision for you.
After reading this article, you'll know:
- What the research says about the benefits of therapy
- What factors affect the outcomes of therapy
- When therapy might not be useful for you
The Research on Psychotherapy
An overwhelming amount of research suggests that psychotherapy can successfully treat mental health problems. Both the APA and CMHA state that talking through issues with a professional can improve symptoms of a range of mental health issues.
Therapy is proven to help with:
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
- Anger management issues
Research also shows a difference between those who attend therapy and those who don't. When compared to those that struggle with mental health issues but don’t pursue therapy, people who attend regular psychotherapy sessions have much more positive outcomes.
People who attend therapy:
- Have better self-esteem
- Develop better coping skills
- Report more joy in their lives
- Have better relationships with others
- Are more likely to reach their personal and professional goals
What are the Two Most Important Factors in Psychotherapy?
Two main factors that make psychotherapy more effective are your relationship with your therapist and a hopeful attitude toward therapy.
1. Your relationship with your therapist
Above all else, your relationship with your therapist is the biggest predictor of whether therapy will work for you.
If you have a therapist with whom you’re comfortable, you’re more likely to open up about more vulnerable parts of your life. Your therapist should be warm, non-judgmental, and centre respect during sessions.
You should also trust that your therapist can help you make the changes you are looking for. Feeling confident that you are working alongside someone experienced and capable is extremely important to successful therapy.
During your first sessions, a therapist should focus on building rapport with you. They should signal that there is no judgment during sessions, and work to strengthen your relationship with them before diving too deep into treatment. They should also work with you to build a treatment plan tailored to your needs and goals.
If you don’t feel that your therapist is the right one for you, you are not alone! It is completely normal to go through multiple professionals before finding one with whom you work well.
It is totally okay to make these feelings known, and search for someone who will better assist you. Remember, the therapeutic journey is about you. Finding the right therapist is like finding the right shoe. You want to find the right fit, so you feel supported, comfortable, and happy!
2. A hopeful attitude towards therapy
Another huge factor that determines whether psychotherapy will be successful is your commitment to it. A client who enters therapy with an open mind and is willing to put in the work during and between sessions is more likely to experience all that therapy has to offer!
This means booking and attending regular sessions and doing the homework your therapist assigns. It also means being open and honest with your therapist (and if you have trouble with openness, let them know).
Most importantly, it means having the right expectations. Therapy can be hard work, and it can take a while to see positive changes. You may experience ups and downs as you share intimate information or begin to process difficult issues. Having patience and follow-through throughout your journey is important! It’s not only about trying therapy, but also about sticking with it.
When Won't Therapy Help Me?
Therapy can be a great way to see positive changes in your life - but that doesn't mean it's helpful for everyone.
Psychotherapy might not work for you if:
- You’re experiencing healthy levels of anxiety, anger, or sadness
- You’re not committed to the therapy process
- The issues you’re presenting are more suited to other forms of treatment
1. You’re experiencing healthy levels of anxiety, anger, or sadness
Although emotions like anxiety, anger, and sadness often get a bad rep, they’re actually really useful! Emotions are ways we communicate with ourselves about how our environment affects us. It’s completely normal to feel nervous about an upcoming test, angry when someone cancels on us at the last minute, or sad when someone we love moves away.
If you have a good sense of self and a strong support group around you, you’ll usually find that you can move through these emotions with relative ease.
In cases like these, psychotherapy may not be the best fit.
If you already have a good sense of self and healthy coping skills, psychotherapy may do very little for you. If, however, you feel ‘stuck’ in these feelings, and notice that they’re affecting your day-to-day life, sense of self, and relationships, psychotherapy may help you.
2. You’re not committed to the therapy process
If you’re hostile about the process of therapy, not dedicated to attending regular sessions, and come in with the expectation that it won’t work, your chances of experiencing the benefits diminish.
It is important to be honest with yourself before you begin the process of psychotherapy.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I ready and willing to make changes in my life?
- Do I have an open mind about what therapy can do for me?
- Am I willing and able to make time to attend regular therapy sessions?
- Will I take time between sessions to do the assignments my therapist asks of me?
- Do I have the means (i.e., energy, babysitter, finances, transportation) to attend sessions?
If the answer is no, that’s okay! It may mean that you need to take time before pursuing therapy or that you need to learn more and feel more confident before you’re ready to make the jump.
3. The issues you’re presenting are more suited to other forms of treatment
Although psychotherapy can treat many mental health issues, some issues are better treated through other means. Some people may respond better to medication or intensive care. Some issues are better treated through inpatient facilities or working alongside a treatment team.
Independent learners may need the guidance of workshops or therapeutic worksheets to get them started and can then work on their issues without the help of a therapist. Sometimes, mixed-method treatments, like medication alongside psychotherapy, can provide the best results!
So, is Psychotherapy Right for You?
As with any treatment, psychotherapy is not one-size-fits-all. It may not work for you if you’re experiencing healthy levels of “negative” emotions, if you aren’t committed to the process, or if your issues are better suited to a different treatment.
On the other hand, research shows that psychotherapy is an effective treatment for many mental health issues. With a good therapeutic match and a hopeful, committed attitude, the chances that you’ll see the benefits of psychotherapy are high!
Here at KMA Therapy, our experienced team have been helping our clients make positive changes for over 14 years. We're here to match you with the best therapist for you, create a customized treatment plan, and help you thrive in your life and relationships.
Learn about what mental health professional is right for you by reading: What Are the Different Types of Therapists?
Find out how often you should go to therapy by reading: How Often Do I Need to Attend Psychotherapy?
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