Dr Richard Fox
Counselling and Psychotherapy for individuals and couples
Does psychotherapy work?
A significant body of research shows that counselling and psychotherapy are effective. A statistician would say that at the end of treatment the average treated person is better off than 80% of the untreated sample. In more practical terms, after 1-7 sessions, 60-65% of people experience significant symptomatic relief. After 6 months this figure rises to 70-75%, and at one year 85% of people have experienced significant symptomatic relief. Most people maintain their gains over time.
How long does it take?
Some people - who are dealing with a crisis in their life - come for just a handful of sessions and that is all they need. Others take a few months and some a few years. How long it takes will depend upon how deep seated the difficulties are and how far you want to go. Do you want to sort out the current problem, or to go further and free yourself from patterns that are limiting your ability to fully enjoy life?
Duncan and Miller are leaders in the field of research into what makes psychotherapy effective. These sets of guidelines have been adapted from their book: 'The Heroic Client:'
Guidelines for working with a therapist
Find a therapist with whom you can work well. Change principally results from your own input and participation - you are the star of the therapy drama. Research shows that:
- Change depends far more on your resources and abilities than the therapist's pet approach. Good therapy uses your strengths to create solutions.
- Change depends far more on what you think of the therapist and how well you get on with him or her, than the therapists pet approach.
- Change depends upon the therapist exploring options with you rather than imposing a models right way to address a problem.
Guidelines for choosing or losing a therapist
In any of these situations... find another therapist!
- If you do not like your therapist.
- If you think that your therapist does not understand you or appreciate your point of view.
- If you do not agree with the goals of the therapist, or do not think they are your goals.
- If you do not agree with the opinions or suggestions of your therapist and he or she will not alter the approach.
- If you think your therapist sees your problem or situation as hopeless or unchangeable.
- If you are asking for something in therapy (for example feedback or suggestions) and not getting it.
- If you do not get something positive going within three sessions, talk to your therapist. If the problem persists.
Attitudes towards medication
The ideal is to sort out our problems without using medication and many people are keen to do this, especially since a number of studies have questioned the value of medication in mild depression. On the other hand, there is little doubt that medication is useful in someone who is seriously depressed or not coping, and in that case it makes sense to take medication to get well enough to deal with the problem.