Does counselling work?

In this brief blog we will learn what therapy looks like, signs therapy is working for you and then signs that it isn’t. 

Does counselling work?

Counselling may or may not work depending on many factors. To assess whether counselling is working – or not working for you, depends on your commitment, the counsellor’s qualifications and experiences as well as the therapeutic relationship you share. 

It’s common for people to wonder if therapy works in the first place. Therapy is quite unique, however, because it doesn’t work like say a medication that you can take when illness shows signs or symptoms, and within an allotted time frame your health comes back again. Rather, therapy may attack the symptom but what it really treats are underlying causes of one’s suffering.

What is therapy?

Therapy is a scientifically-proven way of understanding how your mind works. It helps you figure out which tools are best for getting work done, navigate your feelings, analyze sensibly, and relate to yourself in a new way that leaves you feeling confident enough to live the life you want without therapy. 

A therapist teaches you skills to make lasting change not only in your mental state but also in your moods by developing emotional resilience so you can no longer be prone to knee jerk reactions or irrational decisions because of bad habits built up over time.

It’s not always clear what the therapy is aiming for or how it’s doing so. For many individuals, therapy evokes a strong feeling of the unknown, and putting your confidence in an ostensibly imprecise, nonlinear process can be unsettling.

This is particularly true if you’re busy and want an answer or solution quickly, or during the pandemic when adding yet another vague unknown to your life seems like it can’t possibly be helpful.

Therapy doesn’t always work immediately away. Even in the best of therapeutic situations, symptoms might take awhile to improve. Going to treatment and not seeing any progress might be discouraging. It may appear to be a waste of time and resources. As a result, many people quit attending to treatment. 

Other factors can have an impact on the efficacy of therapy. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that works for everyone. Not every therapist will be a good fit for everyone. Even if you desire assistance, having a bad experience with a specific therapist or form of treatment might make it difficult to try therapy again.

To make things easier, let’s run through the signs of unsuccessful and successful therapy. 

Signs therapy is not working for you.

There can be many reasons why a therapist and client don’t connect in a meaningful way. Here are some signs that can indicate a therapeutic relationship isn’t strong enough:

  • A client is in counselling because someone else thinks it’s a good idea, not because they believe it is. 
  • At the end of a treatment session, a client feels worse, not better.
  • Because they don’t comprehend their therapist, a client must ask a lot of questions. 
  • When a therapist responds to a client’s queries, the client asks the same questions again. 
  • Because their therapist isn’t ‘getting them,’ a client becomes upset. 
  • Between sessions, a client needs to find topics to talk about. 
  • Between sessions, a client does not think about their treatment. 
  • The prospect of visiting their therapist is unappealing to a client.
  • A client or their therapist is trying harder and harder to find a way forward.
  • A therapist does not give a convincing explanation for a client’s issue or outline a convincing way forward

The therapist lacks the specific therapeutic training in the area of need.

Some therapists are better at diagnosing and treating patients than others. Despite the fact that most graduate schools provide little to no training in personality disorders, many clients come to therapy with PD, personality disorder traits, coping with a loved one who has a personality disorder, and other issues, many clients come to therapy with PD, personality disorder traits, coping with a loved one who has a personality disorder, and so on. 

It can be unhelpful to a client if a therapist is not adjusting their therapeutic approach based on the person’s individual presenting problem and underlying emotional issues.

The therapist and client are not a good fit.

While most individuals may benefit from a variety of therapists, there are situations when the client and therapist are not a good match on a personal level. While most individuals may benefit from a variety of therapists, there are situations when the client and therapist are not a good match on a personal level.

Your therapist should be someone who “gets” you, makes you feel profoundly understood, yet also challenges you effectively. In fact, research reveals that the therapeutic alliance’s quality is the most important factor in whether you change via treatment.

Are you able to be direct with your therapist? Is it possible for you to tell them everything? Therapy won’t be productive if you’re reluctant to tell your therapist anything, especially things you believe they’ll disagree with.

The client is not honest or has unrealistic goals. 

Many individuals are ashamed or anxious about revealing their most troubling behaviours or ideas, and they only tell their therapist half of the tale. Lying in therapy, however common, can undermine the therapeutic relationship and ultimately get in the way of your progress. 

Taking some time to investigate your reasons for lying can help you avoid future dishonesty and improve your chances of success in therapy. 

Unrealistic goals can only exist in combination with highly powerful emotions, making those unrealistic goals seem realistic under the fog of emotion. The expectation is that the therapist should know what the client is thinking.

The client only wants to vent. They don’t want to change. 

Only a few people realize that going to psychological therapy is not only an opportunity to voice your worries as it might seem at first glance. In fact, as a rule, the main objective of any therapist is to help their patient improve his or her life by directing all their attention towards positive changes and away from unwanted habits. 

Most of us decide to go to a psychologist simply because we want to voice our problems and have someone understand our stories – but this type of approach does not bring concrete results. In order for us to improve our lives, we need more than understanding from people closest to us – what we need is only possible through hard work on ourselves that will ultimately change our personalities or lifestyles in a way that will make us happier, stronger and more confident.

The client drops out of treatment or is inconsistent.

Real transformation and counselling may be difficult, emotional, time-consuming, and costly. When it gets difficult to continue with it and/or when they begin skipping appointments, many people drop out, which does not lead to successful therapy. 

Many clients expect that therapy means going to someone who agrees with everything you say, validate and support every feeling and decision, be available whenever needed, whereas this narrative discredits the work that has to come from the client’s side. 

Now here are some signs that therapy is working for you

The fact that success implies various things to different providers, in different types of treatment, and for different ailments or objectives makes it impossible to measure—or even explain—therapy success. 

You feel better emotionally. 

Depending on the reasons for entering therapy, make a list of your symptoms and then check if any of them have improved since you started getting help. If you entered therapy because you were depressed or sad, is there more happiness in your life? If you needed help with your anxiety, is there less pressure when faced with tough decisions? Improvements in these kinds of areas is an indicator that you’re making progress.

You have better life satisfaction.

A better sense of satisfaction with your life is something you are feeling which is making you feel motivated to stick with treatment. You now feel that you’re getting more out of life and that has made a difference in the goals that you want to pursue. 

When life becomes full of positive accomplishments, it is a milestone with which you’re happy to have been able to make good progress. Feeling satisfied in life motivates you to keep striving forward.

You have learned healthier ways to cope.

Most people use therapy as a form of medication. The practice is aimed at looking into how we feel and why we feel that way and then addressing those emotions and finding ways to control them, and better understand the emotion and then also appreciate positive ones as well. 


As long as you commit to the process and track your progress, it can be very beneficial. It is also important to openly speak about your feelings towards therapy and learn your way through it. 

Counselling, when used in the correct way, can help to create tremendously positive changes in an individual’s life. The Counsellor is trained to handle the counselling relationship in a professional way, giving space for the client to explore their inner world, and providing guidance and care where necessary. 

Counselling can be tough and feel extremely distressing at times, especially at the beginning. It can be difficult to trust a stranger with your deepest, darkest feelings, emotions and experiences.

Counseling is an opportunity for one to communicate openly with a professionally trained individual who will listen closely and help you identify goals of your own accord that are relevant to the concerns that you wish to resolve. Professional counselors help clients explore problematic issues, seek solutions relevant alternatives to amelioration of anxiety, stressed communications, encouragement of healthy lifestyles, strengthening of self-esteem and promoting behavior change.

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