Does psychotherapy work? In November 1995, Consumer Reports conducted a landmark study examining this question. Of the 4,000 therapy clients who responded, nearly 90% reported that they were managing life better after getting help. Those who reported the most discomfort and upset at the beginning of treatment reported the most improvement from psychotherapy. Some of those surveyed were treated through both psychotherapy and medications such as antidepressants, etc., while others were treated through “talk” therapy alone.
In these times it’s interesting to note that those who had psychotherapy alone reported just as much improvement as the medication-only group, and that those who received only psychotherapy improved as much as those who got therapy plus drugs. Clients who were actively engaged in the process had better results than those who were passive. In addition, this study found that therapy that lasted more than six months was significantly more effective than shorter-term therapies. Clients whose treatments were limited by insurance company policies had worse outcomes than those who did not have such limitations.
A recent study by the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland found that “active, engaging and extroverted therapists” helped patients more quickly in the short term than “cautious, nonintrusive therapists.”
To learn more, read these articles on psychotherapy’s benefits in the Journal of the American Medical Association, The British Journal of Psychiatry, and the American Psychologist. A 1995 Consumer Reports “concluded that patients benefited very substantially from psychotherapy, that long-term treatment did considerably better than short-term treatment.”
Over the past century therapists have documented how in the course of their work people have found long-term relief from pain and suffering, developed more satisfying relationships, and improved their quality of life and capacity to contribute to society. The only way to find out whether therapy will work for you is to recognize that it takes a commitment of time and reflection, to approach it with an open mind and to decide for yourself.