Why Therapy Works

Many studies have shown that therapy works in healing the mind and body. It improves social functioning, decreases depression and anxiety, and increases general satisfaction with life. Whether you are seeking therapy for emotional distress, anxiety, marital strife, fears, a significant loss, or a clinical disorder, therapy has been shown to work.

Part of why therapy works is that it addresses our needs as human beings to talk to someone about our problems. Humans want to relate and be validated by others, and talk therapy gives us the opportunity to do this. Scientifically, interpersonal relationships (relationships with others) have been shown to affect the structure and function of the brain. Interacting with others affects our moods, behaviors, and reactions. Isolated individuals have been shown to have negative behavioral and emotional effects as a result of their lack of relationships. Humans need to have interpersonal relationships. It is part of how we operate. We are social creatures.  One of the reasons why therapy works is that it gives us that interpersonal interaction that we crave.

Another reason why therapy works is it allows us to examine our cognition, which is the way we think. Often the way we think about certain behaviors or situations is influenced by our past and our environment. Certain family aspects play a part in how we think, as do experiences and trauma. Sometimes we have automatic thoughts that cause anxiety, fear, and other negative emotions. Therapy works by having us examine the way we think and how we can change the way we think. It allows us to recognize negative cognitions and their effects, which can help us change them.

A third reason why therapy works is that it allows you to look inside yourself. Insight that comes from introspection allows you to change old patterns of behavior. Outside of therapy, few people take the time to really think about the way they behave. Practicing awareness or mindfulness is a big part of why therapy works. The practice of mindfulness has been shown to increase overall happiness. It also allows the patient to recognize core experiences. An example of a core experience is a person that was not shown physical affection as a child. They may develop a core belief that it is not safe to allow physical intimacy. Mindfulness allows them to connect with the core experience and recognize the way that it has shaped their life in the present. When we are truly connected with a core experience, we begin to change the way we think about situations as a result of that core experience.

These are the core reasons why therapy works, but therapy can work for an individual for a myriad of reasons. It can build trust for a person who is lacking it. Therapy can give people suffering a relationship problem an outside perspective that can be invaluable. It can help an anti-social child the opportunity to come out of his or her shell and connect with someone. Whatever the reasons why therapy works, it is certain that it does, in fact, work.