How Do I Know If Therapy Is Working?

5 clear signs therapy is working for you.

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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. 

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.” 

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.

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.


Uncovering responses to the world that no longer serve you opens a whole new menu of options for being more successful and fulfilled.


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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.
  1. American Psychological Association. Understanding psychotherapy and how it works.

  2. 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.