Is Therapy Working? 5 Ways to Tell

A therapist is not a friend, and this is good. Therapists are paid to help you make changes that improve your life. The challenge is often that positive change is slow to come, and it may seem that nothing is happening. It is easy to overlook the positive progress you may already be having.  Evaluating how therapy is working for you is important. Here’s how to tell that your therapy is working well:

ImageTracking Progression

Good therapists continually help you track your progress. This tracking can look differently depending on your therapists’ style. If you are working on anxiety issues, your therapist may ask you to track your mood in certain situations that you noted as being anxiety-provoking. Another way a therapist helps you track your progress is through verbal process. He or she may ask you what you’ve learned so far and what changes you have made since starting therapy. Tracking milestones through processing is a common practice of good therapists. If your therapist helps you look at how you are progressing, it is a good indication that you are working with a good clinician. Through your processing, if you can see improvements in your behavior, mood, or life, continue to work further in therapy. This may be the best way to see constructive and lasting changes.

You Start Accepting Yourself

Therapy is a means to help you deal with the challenges around you and to achieve a balance in your life. No matter how much therapy you might participate in, you will not be able to change people. You can only change yourself. With that said, changing how you respond to others in your life or to stressors you encounter will help you live a more balanced life. That is what you want. If you start to discover that you are feeling better about who you are, among all the stressors you encounter and the imperfections you might still be working through, it is a good sign that therapy is working well in your life. This takes some time so first and foremost, be patient, be determined, and track your progress with your therapist.

Autonomy is the Goal

Relying on your therapist is not a bad thing! Of course, you do not want to be dependent for months or years on end! At first, your therapist serves as a surrogate for what you might need or lack. You might find primary comfort in therapy and depend on your sessions to get you through difficult times. After some time in therapy, your therapist should become less and less of a crutch. Good therapy creates autonomy, not dependence. Good therapists are always trying to put themselves out of business. Over time, you should feel better for many reasons, and only feeling good during therapy or feeling like you cannot function without advice from your therapist may be a sign that the therapy is doing more harm than good.

You Have the Power

Although there is a hierarchical dynamic in therapy, your therapist should always be working against it. Your therapist should be an expert in the field, but you should hold the reigns to your decisions. You should feel that you have control in the therapy process. If you have a question, you should feel comfortable asking your therapist. If you disagree, it should not be a problem for you to say so to your therapist. In this way, your therapist can help you make more meaningful choices to better your life because those choices will be based on your thoughts and feelings. If you feel disempowered in the therapy process at every turn, you might need to look for another therapist.

Others Notice Your Changes

If you continue to make positive changes in your life, chances are that the people closest to you will notice. A friend might like that you are more sensitive to her needs while a daughter may be angry that you are tightening the reigns of discipline. While others might have positive and negative reactions to the changes in you, the fact that they notice is a good sign that your therapy is working. 

 

If you are curious about online therapy or want to build a relationship with a new therapist, contact us at MeaningfulOnlineTherapy.com. Your first session is always free. We want you to be fully informed about the process, answer any questions you might have, and decide if this is the right step for you, without any financial obligation. Call us today!   

 

Resources:

Elejalde-Ruiz, A. (2011, March 23). Is it time to leave your therapist? Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-03-23/health/sc-health-0323-fire-your-therapist-20110323_1_patient-therapist-relationship-end-therapy-issues

Andrews, G., Cuijpers, P., Craske, M.G., McEvory, P., & Titov, N. (2010). Computer Therapy for the Anxiety and Depressive Disorders Is Effective, Acceptable and Practical Health Care: A Meta-Analysis. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.001319

Titov, N., Andrews, G., Kemp, A., Robinson, E (2010). Characteristics of Adults with Anxiety or Depression Treated at an Internet Clinic: Comparison with a National Survey and an Outpatient Clinic . DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010885

Marks I, Cavanagh K, Gega L (2007) Hands-on help: Computer-aided psychotherapy. New York: Psychology Press Taylor and Francis.

Titov N, Andrews G, Robinson E, Schwencke G, Johnston L, et al. (2009) Clinician-assisted Internet-based treatment is effective for generalized anxiety disorder: Randomized controlled trial. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 43: 905–912.

Heitler, S. (2013). I know I need therapy help, but is my therapy working? Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201307/i-know-i-need-therapy-help-is-my-therapy-working

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