How Does Therapy Work?

If you are hurting inside, or your life just doesn't seem to be working, talking with friends or family members can sometimes help you feel a little better for a while. But even the most well-meaning friend can't provide therapy. Therapy is a treatment process that uses specialized techniques of caring that have been designed to offer effective, long-lasting help for people suffering from a wide range of difficulties, such as emotional distress, anxiety, marital strife, fears, a significant loss, or a clinical disorder. Therapy can also help fulfill aspirations for personal growth or self-improvement.

One of the biggest misconceptions about therapy is that seeing a therapist is a sign of weakness. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Recognizing the need for help and seeking professional therapy is a sign of both strength and your determination to live a productive and meaningful life! Working together, you and your therapist will identify your goals (what you want to have happen) and agree on how you'll know when you are making progress. Therapy has one clear and definite purpose: that something of positive value and constructive usefulness will come out of it for you.

Therapy has often been called the "talking cure," since the exchange of words between the client and therapist can appear to be the most obvious form of communication that is going on. In reality, therapy can offer a much richer experience than the simple exchange of words and advice. The thoughts and feelings you share and the professional techniques the therapist uses are not nearly as important as the relationship you build together. Because the relationship with the therapist is so essential to the effectiveness of the process, it is very important that you find someone with whom you feel a comfortable connection, a therapist who makes you feel understood.

As therapy progresses and your trust in the therapist's non-judgmental acceptance of your thoughts and feelings is established, you will actually use the relationship as an opportunity to reshape significant emotional experiences and work through problems in your life. In therapy, you intentionally make yourself vulnerable to another human being and you may talk about some things that are very painful for you. However, it is the very process of trusting that it's safe to release your feelings--the good and the bad--and knowing that the therapeutic relationship permits you to safely explore deeply felt sources of conflict and dissatisfaction that will finally allow you to make lasting, positive changes in your life.