How Does Therapy Work?

Therapy is helpful for working through a variety of issues or just for gaining a better understanding of yourself. If you’re considering visiting a therapist, you may ask, “How does therapy work?”

Techniques and methods of psychotherapy have evolved over the years, but today, most therapists focus on your current thoughts and feelings rather than on the past. It’s common for a therapist and client to establish specific goals at the beginning of treatment.

As progress happens, they’ll determine whether the goals have been met or whether there are any new goals to work toward.

how does therapy work

Common goals of therapy include:

  • Developing healthy coping skills for stress or trauma
  • Overcoming fear or anxiety
  • Improving relationships with others
  • Establishing and following a healthy routine
  • Establishing a plan for coping with a crisis
  • Ending self-destructive habits like drinking, drug use, or compulsive spending
  • Identifying triggers that worsen symptoms of a mental illness


The Process

Although talking about your struggles, emotions, and feelings is a large part of therapy, there’s much more to the process, too. Your therapist will also help you work toward solutions. Even outside of your therapy sessions, you’ll practice the tools or skills you learn during therapy.

Many therapists give “homework assignments” like recording thoughts or moods each day or joining in social activities. Therapy works best when the client takes an active role in the treatment and makes a conscious effort to apply the skills learned in therapy to his or her daily life.

As you gain more awareness and understanding of your thoughts and feelings, you’ll get closer to your goals. The skills you learn about in therapy sessions will become easier the more you practice them, like how a muscle becomes stronger the more you use it.


Understanding Yourself Better

Your therapist will help you understand your thoughts and identify actions you need to take to reach your goals or achieve growth, but you’ll eventually be able to have those realizations on your own. When you feel like you can move forward on your own, you can end your relationship with the therapist. However, you can always return to therapy if you feel you need it.


In Conclusion

The exact answer to the question, “How does therapy work?” will be different for everyone. Because everyone is different, no two people will have exactly the same experience with therapy. However, the foundation of the process involves setting goals and working toward an understanding of yourself, your thoughts, and your experiences.

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