Does Therapy Work? The Effectiveness of Therapy

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13 December 2023

9 Mins

Many people often wonder, "Does therapy really work?" Unlike taking medicine that directly targets symptoms, therapy is more about searching for and healing the root cause of the problem. It's not a quick fix, but rather a process of understanding and addressing the basis of what's bothering you.

It's like having a conversation with a professional who helps us talk about our emotions and thoughts without any judgment or bias. Not only that but therapists also use proven methods to guide us in building better habits.

Now, let’s deeply understand “how does therapy work” and if it’s worth considering.

Does Therapy Actually Work?

If you're wondering, "Does therapy really work?" Let's find out through a practical answer. It's known that 75% of people who take therapy experience great benefits. The goal of therapy is to facilitate change, and it can help you navigate life by helping you feel empowered, informed, and justly attuned. Therapy can bring a lot of insights into your life and help you make healthier choices and build coping strategies to manage your well-being.

In essence, therapy is a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. It is a collaborative effort between you and your therapist to achieve positive results. So, if you're considering whether therapy is effective, the evidence suggests that it can actually be a transformative and beneficial experience on your path to a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Different Types of Therapy Work Better for Different Concerns

Now let's address the question, 'Is therapy worth it?' by exploring different types of therapy approaches to help you make the right choice. There are various types of therapeutic approaches that a professional can choose to follow, given the requirements of the individual and the experience of the therapist.

Read more to learn about some of the common types of therapy and how they work.

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a kind of therapy that helps you feel better by changing how you think and act, which involves fixing your thoughts and actions to make your mood and daily life better. In this therapy, you will start by finding the connection between your thoughts, actions, and behaviors. For example, if you're feeling anxious or sad, CBT helps you figure out its reason so that once you know the link, you can change those thoughts and emotions consciously and with constant work.

When the question 'does therapy work' arises, CBT answers this by engaging people in positive behavior using coping strategies and problem-solving skills that bring a sense of accomplishment and happiness to them, thereby reducing the effects of mental concerns. This therapy involves 6-20 sessions where people actively engage in discussion, exercises, and homework assignments to practice new skills between sessions. This makes CBT particularly effective for addressing issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, and stress.

2. Humanistic therapy

Humanistic therapy is a type of counseling that believes everyone has the potential to grow and become the best version of themselves. There are different kinds of humanistic therapies, such as Person-Centered, Gestalt, Existential, Transactional, and Logotherapy. They all share the idea that people can reach their goals and overcome problems through personal growth.

In exploring the question, "does therapy work," humanistic therapy stands out as a supportive guide to help you understand yourself better and work towards your personal goals. Unlike some other types of therapy that might focus on specific issues, humanistic therapy is more about overall personal development.

Some of the benefits of humanistic therapy have been seen in people dealing with anxiety or depression. Even those with severe or long-term symptoms have shown improvement with Person-Centered therapy. Logotherapy and Gestalt therapy have also been effective in treating anxiety, depression, and aggression. The good thing about humanistic therapy is that the improvements made during these sessions tend to last longer, which helps you in the long run.

3. Solution-focused brief therapy

Solution-focused Brief therapy is a kind of therapy that is short and focuses on achieving specific goals to help people find their own solutions to problems. Unlike some other therapies that can take a long time, SFBT is designed to be speedy and takes about 6 to 8 sessions.

In SFBT, the focus is on setting clear and realistic short-term goals with a plan to move forward. Instead of spending a lot of time discussing problems, the therapist and the client work together to determine what steps can be taken to solve those problems.

When people wonder, "does therapy work," it has been found that SFBT is highly effective for family-related issues, like dealing with problems in parenting teenagers or coping with the death of a family member. Some studies also suggest that SFBT can be helpful for a wide range of concerns, including emotional and relationship issues.

4. Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy helps people understand unconscious influences by examining how their behaviors develop over time. It works to help people understand the motivation of the unconscious mind that can impact their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

While exploring this therapy, people often ask, "Does therapy really work?" In this approach, the therapist uses various methods, such as maintaining a clear focus, going deeper into the transference of emotions and being actively involved in the entire process. It usually involves attending one or two sessions per week for up to a year so that one can explore and understand their thoughts and behaviors deeply.

This therapy works well for treating depression, borderline personality disorder, and certain anxiety issues whose effects can last longer. So, in a way, psychodynamic therapy helps us untangle the knots in our unconscious behaviors that promote self-reflection, insight, and emotional growth.

5. Interpersonal therapy

Interpersonal therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on how a person's relationships and interactions with others impact their mental health. This therapy helps solve relationship issues because it believes that our interactions with friends, family, and others can affect our emotions and wellbeing. This kind of therapy is planned to address the question "does therapy really work" which lasts for a specific amount of time, usually about 12 to 16 sessions.

Therapists help people identify patterns in their relationships that may contribute to emotional difficulties, which include observing communication styles, problem-solving, and how emotions are expressed. This therapy is used to help people cope with major life changes, such as grief, transitions, or conflicts, using tools to handle these challenges and maintain healthy relationships.

6. Dialectical behavior therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) helps people by teaching them specific skills to handle emotional trauma and pain without getting overwhelmed. Its primary focus is on teaching problem-solving skills to replace harmful behaviors with more helpful ones. Originally designed for people struggling with serious thoughts of harming themselves, DBT has been adapted to be useful for a wider range of issues, such as feeling lonely, low self-esteem, and self-criticism.

Amid discussions about mental health, a common question arises – "Does therapy really work?" Interestingly, since it is especially for dealing with self-harm thoughts and other negative behaviors, DBT is considered the best therapy to help people with borderline personality disorder, and it is effective in handling negative thoughts and improving adherence to treatment plans.

Does Therapy Work for Everyone?

Therapy can be a beneficial resource for many people, but it's essential to recognize that its effectiveness can vary from person to person. Here are five key points to better understand “Does counseling work?"

1. Individual differences

People are unique, and what works well for one person may work less effectively for another. Different individuals have distinct needs, preferences, and personalities that influence how they respond to therapy sessions. It's crucial to determine if "does therapy help" aligns with your specific needs, preferences, and comfort levels so that the therapy aligns with your requirements and contributes positively to your overall wellbeing.

2. Relationship with therapist

A strong and trusting connection between you and the therapist is often a significant factor in determining “is therapy worth it,” which means that the quality of the therapeutic relationship is crucial for better results. However, not every match between you and a therapist may feel right, and it's best to find a suitable fit for your needs. If you have yet to find the right fit, it doesn't mean therapy isn't suitable for you as it might take some time to discover a therapist for your needs who creates a comfortable environment for your growth.

3. Motivation and commitment

The success of therapy is also influenced by your motivation and commitment. Those who actively engage in therapy sessions, complete assigned tasks, and apply learned skills outside of sessions are more likely to experience positive outcomes.

4. The right treatment for your needs

Different therapy approaches are designed to address specific concerns. The effectiveness of therapy can depend on whether the chosen approach aligns with the individual's needs. For instance, someone with anxiety might benefit more from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) than from psychodynamic therapy.

5. Complexity of issues

Therapy is well-suited for many common mental health challenges, but it may be less effective for complex issues that require a multidisciplinary approach or medical intervention. In such cases, a combination of therapeutic and other forms of treatment may be necessary.

The Effectiveness of Therapy With Medication

Using therapy and medication together is often effective for certain mental health issues, such as depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and psychosis. In these cases, compared to therapy alone, a combination of therapy and medication often produces more favorable results. Therapy helps with thoughts and feelings, while medication helps with the body's chemical balance. It is important to note that only medication may not have the same lasting benefits as using therapy alone or a combination of both.

So, does therapy help? Absolutely. In therapy, you are working with a professional and sharing your emotional, behavioral, and mental issues that cause you distress. Whereas, in medication, you are prescribed medication by a psychiatrist based on the best available scientific evidence and your willingness to try medical treatments. So, all in all, therapy and medication alone also work, and for severe cases, it is best to opt for a combination of therapy and medication.

How Does Therapy at Now&Me Work?

If you ever feel like you need someone to talk to, Now&Me is there for you. The therapists at Now&Me are available 24x7 to listen, provide guidance, and support you on your mental health journey—just starting at Rs. 30 only.

At Now&Me, the question "does therapy work" is addressed through a very simple and supportive process. You simply have to download the app, find a therapist who suits your needs and preferences, and then book a one-on-one consultation call at your convenience to share your thoughts and feelings in a comfortable online space.

Start your mental health journey with the right therapist to understand your challenges and explore strategies for positive change.

Final Thoughts

While therapy is a valuable approach to improving mental health for many individuals, the results can vary from person to person. The success of 'does therapy actually work' depends on various factors, including personal differences, the connection with your therapist, how motivated you are, whether the chosen therapy style suits you, and how complicated the mental health issues are.

Therefore, it is important to build a good relationship with your therapist; the stronger it is, the better the results. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all, and it's okay to explore until you find what works best for you.


  1. Beyond worry: How psychologists help with anxiety disorders. American Psychological Association. 2020.

  2. Recognition of Psychotherapy Effectiveness. American Psychological Association. 2012.

  3. Merits of psychodynamic therapy.Harvard Mental Health Letter. 2010.

  4. The Efficacy of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses.

  5. Efficacy of logotherapy and gestalt therapy in treating anxiety, depression, and aggression. Journal of Iranian Psychologists.

  6. The effectiveness of humanistic therapies: A meta-analysis. American Psychological Association. 2002.

  7. Solution-Focused Therapy. Addiction Campuses.

  8. Types of therapy used in treatment. American Addiction Centers.

Now&Me articles are written by experienced mental health contributors and are purely based on scientific research and evidence-based practices, which are thoroughly reviewed by experts, including therapists and psychologists with various specialties, to ensure accuracy and alignment with current industry standards.

However, it is important to note that the information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individual circumstances vary, and it is advisable to consult with a qualified mental health professional for personalized advice and guidance.

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