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Why Does Therapy Work?

If you’ve ever wondered why or how therapy works and helps people make positive change, or if you're considering beginning therapy but are curious about how it might work, below is a list of just a few of the reasons meeting with a therapist can potentially be effective in helping you make lasting change in your life.

The Therapeutic Relationship

One of the biggest predictors of how successful therapy is for someone is how strong the relationship is between the therapist and client. When you are able to share your innermost thoughts, fears, etc. to someone you trust, but who is not someone who is part of your life on a daily basis, you are able to feel heard, seen, acknowledged, and validated. This can lead you to feel more confident in your life outside the therapy room, and you are then able to carry the skills you learn in therapy out into your own relationships. Due to the great importance of the therapeutic relationship in treatment success, it is very important that you choose a therapist who you feel comfortable and safe with, and who meets your needs as a client.

Working in the Here-and-Now

While all therapists work differently, there is often some kind of intervening on the part of the therapist in the moment in session when the behavior that you are wanting to change comes up. For example, imagine you are wanting to increase your confidence as a goal of therapy. Then in session one day you start saying mean things about yourself. The therapist might point this out to you and guide you to change this in the moment. Another example would be if a couple who is wanting to work on having healthier communication begins to fall into their usual pattern of speaking over each other while in session one day. The therapist might call this out as it is happening and guide the couple in learning a healthier way to engage with each other in the moment. Through safely trying out new behaviors in the therapy room, the client can gain confidence to do this outside of the therapy room as well.

Learning to Replace Negative Thoughts

Many therapists work in some way to help clients change their negative thoughts they hold about themselves that impact how they act, think, and speak to themselves and others. A therapist can help you learn how to interrupt these negative thoughts and replace them with more positive, hopeful thoughts and inner dialogue.

It Can Change Your Brain

Without getting too excited and talking about all the cool neuroscience research about this, I will just say that one of the ways therapy works is that by sitting across from someone who you feel safe with as you share vulnerable moments and experiences, your brain can change in a positive way. You are essentially rewiring parts of your brain as a result of the interaction taking place between you and the therapist. It can also help you learn to have more control over certain processes in your brain, such as your thinking and emotional regulation.

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