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Chris MacGovern Relationships Specialist - Wimbledon and Canary Wharf

Does therapy really work?

Relationship specialist Chris MacGovern on latest research into the talking therapies

Good question. You may be thinking of spending a significant sum with a therapist to deal with something, and yet no one will tell you clearly if it will work or not. And your not alone in being concerned if therapy can really help. US research shows that 76% of those considering therapy cite lack of confidence in outcome as the main reason for not trying it [1].

As my clients will know, I am very focused on if our work together is working - delivering results. Currently I use an elegantly simple solution from Scott Miller (www.scottdmiller.com) to track our progress on a week by week basis.

How do we know therapy can help us?

But back to the more general question, “does therapy work”. You may Google the question. But while it delivers lots of articles, you will be very lucky to find one that attempts to answer your question! It is almost as if it is impolite to ask. You have to take it on faith. And many of us therapist are little better, peppering our responses with ‘well it depends’, etc. And of course we are right, therapy is not predictable. But more importantly you are right, we should seek more clarity.

So lets get a bit more demanding with our question. DOES THERAPY WORK? You’re thinking of paying good money and your entitled to an answer.

So to the research. And here we can start with a resounding, yes therapy works. And further, this is supported by six decades of high end research studies. These, often exploring its effect on thousands of patients, leave little doubt that those who seek therapy fare much better than those who don’t. A mathematical summary (meta-analysis) of many of these studies concluded that the average treated person is 80% better off [3] than those who did not seek treatment. Interestingly that 80% figure is similar to the likely success of your doctor’s pharmacological or surgical interventions for medical problems.

Length of therapy is a key factor, and here research indicates that more is not necessarily better. Between 60-65% of patients experienced significant relief within the first seven visits [3]. Extending this out to a year and the number went up to 85% - again indicating that yes, therapy does work.

[1] American Psychological Association (1998)

[2] Smith, M.L., Glass, G.V., & Miller, T.I. (1980). The benefits of psychotherapy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

[3] Howard, K.I., Kopte, S.,M., Krause, M.S., & Orlinsky, D.E. (1986). The dose-effect relationship in psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 41, 159-164.

As always this is Christopher MacGovern signing off with; “talk to your therapist”.

Relationship counselling

Find out more about specialist couple and individual relationship counselling services in Wimbledon and Canary Wharf call me on: 07500 582 526 or email: enquiries@macgovern.net

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Christopher MacGovern
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