How Effective is Psychotherapy?

How Effective is Psychotherapy?

According to the American Psychological Association, ‘Psychotherapy’ includes any of a group of therapies used to treat psychological disorders, focusing on changing faulty behaviors, perceptions, thoughts, and emotions that may be associated with specific disorders. People sometimes question the necessity of consulting a psychotherapist at a point when they can easily talk to their friends or family members about it. This query can be simply satiated by the fact that the therapists are trained professionals who handle situations in novel ways unknown to common people. Rather, untrained individuals can unknowingly cause more damage when trying to provide help.

“Psychotherapy Research” journal quotes a number of studies that have been successful in proving the effectiveness of the therapies. They have indicated that a successful therapy brings about positive changes in people’s lives. This, in turn, facilitates the patient to overcome his distress. The studies indicate that 75% of the patients undergoing psychotherapy show a positive signs of improvement. Some researchers also refer to the fact that an average person who undergoes treatment is in a better state of mind than 80% of those who do not undergo psychotherapy at all. Yet, it is very difficult to evaluate effectiveness of psychotherapy due to variety of mental disorders and individual conditions of patients.

The success of psychotherapy can be determined by the combination of three factors, namely, evidence-based treatment unique to one’s distress, the psychologist’s clinical expertise, and the client’s characteristics, values, culture, and preferences. A successful psychotherapy will result in the client emerging as a stronger individual, free of all the problems he was facing. While in the course of the treatment, the client may feel that it is not helping as the results are generally more intrinsic and subtle. It helps people in improving relations, expressing their emotions, and excelling in their respective fields, be it at school or work. It also enables one to enhance healthy interpersonal behavior. Psychologists also work toward enhancing positivity within their clients. Another crucial parameter, in determining the success of the therapy is the style of the therapy. This needs to be complemented by a positive therapeutic alliance between the client and the therapist.

Toward the beginning of the treatment, the therapist is likely to chalk out a rough timeline for the client and set a few distinct goals. However, over the course of the treatment, the patient should retrospect and try to determine its progress and the extent of his relationship with the therapist. This relationship is extremely crucial as the clients are expected to turn to therapists in situations of crisis. They approach therapists generally in instances of failed relationships or failure in one’s career opportunities. The problems may include ordinary problems like the child leaving his parents for further studies. Symptoms of anxiety and depression are other factors that lead people to therapists.

The better the relationship is between the therapist and the client, the better communication there will be between the two, which will, in turn, affect the therapy in a positive manner. The clients have a tendency to come and relieve their stress and tensions to the therapists. Often, they also start hoping that the therapy will be a fruitful one and hence they start looking forward to it and, with time, feel less anxious. With time, the positive relationship gives way to the therapist being treated as a friend to the client. This, in turn, helps in facilitating the therapy in a controlled environment.

Although some people start benefitting within 6-12 weeks, some might feel that the therapy is not yielding the desired results. At such a juncture, the patient should immediately confront the therapist and discuss his problem. It is important to initiate discussions with the therapist and look for alternative methods of treatment. It is also important for the client to open up to the therapist completely and trust him with all the personal details. The therapists are generally bound to the code of ethics, which includes not divulging the personal information of the client. The therapist is thus, nonjudgmental and understanding.

Throughout the course of the treatment, the patient might go through a series of emotions. He might feel overwhelmed, angry, sad, or feel hopeless. He might feel like giving up on the therapy, thinking that he is not benefitting from the process. However, this might actually indicate that the therapist is going to extreme ends to help the client overcome the distress. This may also indicate that the client is actually making progress. It can be said that the feeling of hopelessness or similar emotions signals an improvement within the client.

However, in some cases, the relationship between the client and the therapist is not so smooth. In such a case, one should not waste time and look for a second opinion. However, the original psychologist should be aware of this and if the client is not satisfied with the sessions then it should be discontinued. It is advisable that one maintains transparency with the therapist, even while discontinuing the therapy.

Thus, in psychotherapy, the therapist strives to identify the difficulties of life rather than directly trying to ameliorate them. Hence, psychotherapy is an effective tool for helping people in distress, especially emotional illness.