Psychotherapy Online Therapy How Do I Know If Therapy Is Working? 5 clear signs therapy is working for you. By Wendy Rose Gould Wendy Rose Gould LinkedIn Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics. Learn about our editorial process Updated on October 01, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD Medically reviewed by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD LinkedIn Twitter Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor at Yeshiva University’s clinical psychology doctoral program. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print SDI Productions / Getty Images Starting therapy takes real courage, especially if it’s something you’ve never done before. It usually requires you to dig deep into yourself to examine your strengths and weaknesses and to work through painful trauma. Therapy also requires you to do the hard work of developing new skill sets and better coping mechanisms so that your relationships—both with yourself and others—can improve. But how do you know if therapy is working for you? Keep reading for five clear signs your therapy sessions are having a positive impact. How to Know When It’s Time to See a Therapist 5 Signs Therapy Is Working Everyone requires a different approach to therapy and different amounts of time spent in therapy. Not only does it take time for you to see changes, but signs of improvement can often be subtle. Be on the lookout for these five signs your therapy sessions are paying off. You Feel Better One of the clearest signs that therapy is working is that you feel better. This could be very obvious, or it might feel more subtle. For example, your life might begin to feel more manageable, or the fog on a complicated path forward may start to clear. Your inner critic might be less ferocious, and you may begin seeing more beauty in the world around you. Gilza Fort-Martinez, LMFT, adds, “You may notice a return to pleasurable activities or moments of joy. You may start to feel more present and focus on what's happening now versus the sadness of the past or the fear of the future.” Link Between Happiness and Stress Relief You Feel Supported By Your Therapist Our therapists aren’t our “best friends,” nor do they always tell us what we want to hear. However, a good therapist can help you feel more supported and serve as a trustworthy confidant. Fort-Martinez says that you know therapy is working if your therapist allows you to begin the process of trusting again—or maybe for the first time. “It feels safe, even when you are being challenged,” she says. Interestingly, research suggests that therapy is most effective when the patient feels a connection with the mental health professional treating them. The Basic Methods of Different Therapy Types Your Blind Spots Are Coming Into Focus Everyone has blind spots or a repeated pattern of maladaptive thinking or behaving that you may not see but others do. A therapist can help you identify the blind spots causing issues in your day-to-day life. “The same way a fish doesn't know what ‘not-water’ is, we are so in our lives we [sometimes] can’t see beyond the bounds of who we are and how we are,” explains Wayne Pernell, PhD, a clinical psychologist. WAYNE PERNELL, Phd Uncovering responses to the world that no longer serve you opens a whole new menu of options for being more successful and fulfilled. — WAYNE PERNELL, Phd Identifying those blindspots can be painful, and you might feel resistant to accepting them. However, when they start to come into focus you'll experience “a-ha!” moments that can help explain where things have gone sideways in past interactions. The Pros and Cons of Online Therapy Your Relationships Are Improving Improved relationships at home, in your love life, among friends, and even at work is a sign that therapy is working for you. When we’re able to work through our pain, develop new skill sets, and learn new coping mechanisms, the way we engage with others is enhanced. That’s not to say every relationship will be perfect, but you may find yourself experiencing higher levels of patience, empathy, and understanding with others. You’ll also be better equipped with problem-solving skills that allow you to work through difficult moments with others with more ease. 6 Types of Relationships and Their Effect on Your Life You’re Unlearning Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms Dwelling heavily on childhood trauma isn’t always necessary, but it’s still important to identify the ways we tried to make sense of the world as children so we can undo some of the coping techniques we developed for survival. “Some people become bold and dramatic. Others withdraw and engage in approval seeking,” notes Dr. Pernell. “Those behaviors and thoughts become ingrained at the subconscious level and may or may not become something that serves us in adulthood.” Ultimately, unlearning these unhealthy coping mechanisms allows us to break free and find a greater sense of independence, success, and personal fulfillment. It can take time to unlearn these deeply ingrained behaviors, but when they start to become unglued it's a sign that therapy is working. 7 Surprising Ways to Make Your Relationship Better A Word From Verywell Therapy is an opportunity to better understand who you are—even the blind spots or the parts of yourself that you may not want to examine. Successful therapy requires commitment, effort, and a willingness to explore, ask questions, accept answers, and work toward change. What to Do If Therapy Isn't Working 2 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. American Psychological Association. Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy. Conclusions and Recommendations of the Interdivisional (APA Divisions 12 & 29) Task Force on Evidence-Based Therapy Relationships. By Wendy Rose Gould Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.