Does therapy really work? Is psychotherapy effective?

Does therapy really work? Is psychotherapy effective? In short, YES! Even Consumer Reports says so. In the largest study ever done on the effectiveness of psychotherapy, Consumer Reports (1995) queried over 180,000 members of its readership about their experiences with mental healthcare professionals. Of the approximately 7,000 respondents who answered the mental health survey questions, 2,900 indicated that they had received services from a mental healthcare professional (Seligman, 1995). Data from the responses of these 2,900 respondents were analyzed and the results were impressive to say the least:

  • ”Of the 426 people who were feeling very poor when they began therapy, 87% were feeling very good, good, or at least so-so by the time of the survey.” (Seligman, 1995)
  • “Of the 786 people who were feeling fairly poor at the outset, 92% were feeling very good, good, or at least so-so by the time of the survey.” (Seligman, 1995)

In addition to demonstrating the effectiveness of psychotherapy, the data also suggested that:

  • The longer a person sees a therapist, the more they will improve.
  • Those people who start out feeling the worst show the most progress in therapy.
  • While family doctors can help patients address issues like anxiety and depression, working with a therapist for more than six months produces significantly better improvements.
  • Psychotherapy is as or more effective than taking antidepressants/antianxiety medications in helping patients improve and carries with it no chance of pharmacological side effects.

So is psychotherapy effective? Yes, and if you are feeling stuck in your current situation, maybe it’s time you do something about it.