Does therapy work?

Accumulated international research conclude that receiving treatment from a Psychologist or Psychiatrist indeed help in reducing diagnosed problems. Group therapy has found to be ‘at least’ as efficient as individual therapy.

Scientific studies have been carried out to pinpoint how therapy works. At a biological level, scientists find that patients who have gone through a successful treatment for f.ex. depression or anxiety, show changes in the brain structure or at a biochemical level. Other studies find positive results of individual therapy in the form or emotional insights and strengthened self-regulating. In group therapy, interpersonal learning has been found to alleviate relational difficulties, which can be the underlying cause for symtoms of depression and anxiety.

When it comes to the benefits of art therapy, case studies point to a reduction of symptoms, including anger, anxiety and depression, as well as improved problem solving skills, decision-making, self-esteem enhancement, and an improvement of daily functioning  and sociability. These findings were seen in both children-, teenager- and adult test populations. 

At the same time, it should be noted that one of the features of scientific founded medicine is that it wont allow us to guarantee symptom reduction for individuals, based on research done on populations. A small number of patients may also experience a worsening of their symptoms from attending psychotherapy, a topic has been given little focus in therapy research, until recently, but something to keep in mind.

In cases where therapy does not work, you will most likely not experience any immediate reduction in the symptoms you sought help for. But by having taking the responsibility for your problem and having sought out help, you have still taken the first step towards positive change and can leave the therapist office with a greater sense of pride and control over your own life.