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Individual change occurs by taking more responsibility over what the individual wishes to achieve.  Therapy is mentoring, providing opportunities to learn new skills, and maneuvering the patient with great finesse towards a direction more in line with what the patient has voiced they desire to attain.

Psychological Therapy also referred to as Psychotherapy is an important form of treatment for a host of psychological problems, including but not limited to symptoms of Depression, Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders,  Thought Disturbances, Personality Disorders, Eating Disorders, Substance Abuse Disorders, and even those conditions considered less chronic and clinical such as Interpersonal & Relationship difficulties, low self-esteem, social problems, feelings of sadness, grief and bereavement, stress management, to career and life adjustments.

But, is Psychotherapy effective for treating the Mental Health and general life stressors we face?

How effective is Psychotherapy?


Take any philosophical approach to treatment, and you will receive on average the same results.

For years, Clinical Psychologists have debated the assumed benefits of Psychotherapy.   Many studies have compared Psychotherapy to various Psychiatric drug treatments, compared to no treatment at all.   By statistically combining hundreds of these studies, researchers have confirmed that overall, Psychotherapy is better than no treatment at all.  These studies have shown that most patients who improve with Psychotherapy do so within six months of beginning treatment.

***  Psychotherapy is better than no treatment

***   With treatment most improve within 6-Months


In 1952, Psychologist Dr. Hans Jürgen Eysenck, PhD., published the first research paper based on Psychotherapy Outcome effectiveness.   His goal was to measure how effective receiving therapy is, and which one would have the best results when compared to the next alternative Psychotherapy approach.   It was concluded 2/3 of people in therapy get better.  Those in Substance Abuse treatment was the exception based on 1952 research findings.

Dr. Eysenck’s Treatment Outcome Research Review Paper concluded the following.

75% of people are better off with therapy.

Therapy works.  In general all therapies work the same.

Cognitive Therapy works best in treating four (4) areas:



Controlling Childhood Aggression



Dr. Eysenck’s research prompted Mary L. Smith in 1976 to conduct Meta-Analysis Effect Size Research.  This involves combining multiple studies and polling the results of many studies’ research findings.  Then, all results from many studies are analyzed together.  The Effect Size is how much more superior, or better outcomes, one is over the other statistically when used in a Meta-Analysis.   In 1977, Mary L. Smith and Gene V. Glass worked together to conduct Meta-Analysis Effect Size Research.

Their findings concluded the following:

75%  of patients improve in up to 26 Sessions of Psychotherapy.

50%  of patients improve after 8 Sessions of Psychotherapy.

Beyond this there is no real significance on how a patient will benefit with continued treatment.

Categorically, Smith & Glass concluded  “………More generally, virtually no difference in effectiveness was observed between the class of all behavioral therapies (e.g., systematic desensitization and behavior modification) and the non-behavioral therapies (e.g., Rogerian, psychodynamic, rational-emotive, and transactional analysis).”   (PsycINFO Database Record 2016 APA, Meta-analysis of psychotherapy outcome studies.  Smith, Mary L.; Glass, Gene V. American Psychologist, Vol 32(9), Sep 1977, 752-760.)


Today, there are a few more facts based on Psychotherapy research efficacy we should be mindful of for those that seek help.   Therapy is effective and the components that contribute most to one’s success in treatment is what the therapist contributes or variables, the therapy process itself, patient variables, and multicultural variables.

Therapist Variables



Emotional Well Being


Process Variables

What happens in the therapy session?

Good working alliance involving the patient.  This is how much the patient talks in session.

Therapeutic involvement; Environment.


Patient Variables


Anxiety over the presenting problem.  How much misery does the patient have about their problem?

Ego Strength.  Intelligence (IQ).   Ability to examine their problems, and have perspective on the problem.


Ethnic Matching

No main affect.   Makes no difference regarding how successful or not treatment will be.  But, it interacts with trust.

Therapist must be sensitive to cultural diversity.


These items listed below are NOT associated with therapeutic outcomes.  These items do not impact whether or not Psychotherapy will have good outcomes.  They have no significant impact on outcomes.



Social Economic Status

Degree of Mental Health Disturbance.  A severe, chronic and clinical diagnosis, or a mild adjustment disturbance has no significant impact on therapeutic outcomes.


Surprisingly, these studies also indicate all major types of Psychotherapy, despite differences in theoretical orientations, or in techniques used, are about equally effective.  Psychologists theorize that despite surface differences, all Psychotherapies have in common three factors that help to promote change in patients.  The necessary components are that they have one, a supportive and trusting relationship with the therapist.  Two, patients are allowed an opportunity to open up and talk freely.  Lastly, the patient should possess a positive expectation for improvement.


::::   Until Next Time:  à Donf   ::::

Dr Lawana R Lofton, PsyDDr. Lawana R. Lofton, PsyD –    Psychologist with one simple goal of making concepts of psychology accessible.

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