More often than not, the question that comes into mind when a person thinks they need help is: how do I know counselling will help?

Of course, like convincing any friend to go to a place or try good food, it takes a long and extensive explanation to prove that whatever you’re convincing them to do is worth it. It also makes it more challenging to persuade them since therapy costs good money and time, for which they have to make a conscious effort to invest. 

Treatment is highly personal. Why you go, where you go, and how often you choose to go are choices you make at the start of therapy and every time you go back. Hence, if you take your time deciding, it is entirely understandable. 

However, it is essential to recognise the difference between therapy and other medical consultations you may have had before anything. Unlike your consultation, say for a cold, the doctor may perform a few tests, identify the source, prescribe a drug, and hopefully, your cold goes away after taking it. 

Therapy is different because you take more time to look for your symptoms and treat that same source. It’s often synonymous with knowing the unknown. The trust that this process requires takes courage to give.

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When can I say I’ve had successful therapy?

Again, therapy is personal. This makes it challenging to qualify success because it may vary from one patient to another. It also depends on what you hope to achieve, what kind of purpose you seek therapy for, or who you are seeking it from. For instance, determining the success of cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety and couples therapy would be very different.  

A good measure for success in your therapy is the process rather than the outcome. It has helped you manage your mental health concern is a much more realistic success metric. For instance, a good measure of seeking therapy because you experience sleeplessness due to depression is to track their sleep and how many nights or days you have had troubles getting sleep. 

 This measurement changes the way you progress with therapy. It may still be as general as getting better sleep or worrying less in the early stages, but during the progressive phases, it may be more specific such as getting undisturbed eight hours of sleep. Your attitude towards therapy and what your therapists know about you change these goals. The more therapists know about you, the more they can modify the therapy to fit your specific behaviours.

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Remember that success story is what you write it to be. 

Success in therapy may mean better-coping strategies that help you with events you experience in life. The excellent way to see signs of improvement is by monitoring your symptoms compared to when you first came in for therapy. The awareness you build after your therapy for the intensity and frequency of your symptoms can make you feel like you accomplished your goals from when you started treatment. 

This can be achieved if you are diligent with your therapy schedule and are patient with it. Accept that therapy is much like any journey, it takes time, patience, and, most importantly – diligence. Progress is not linear. Like any journey, many things happen that may make you feel better or worse.

So will your counselling sessions help? The short answer is it can. You can have an overall better response to life’s constant changes and challenges. It can help you understand yourself better,  manage the things that make you feel bad, and most importantly, it can help build mental resilience. You have the opportunity to write what your therapy means to you and how your success is determined. 

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