Reviewed by Jodi Jaspan, MS, LPC
You’ve entered therapy, a good first step in feeling better, healing from past traumas and learning new coping skills. But how do you know if it’s working? Measuring the progress in therapy you’re making isn’t an exact science, but there are signs you can explore.
6 Progress-in-Therapy Indicators
1. Your moods and emotions have improved.
Depending on the reasons for entering therapy, check if any of your symptoms have improved. For example, if you entered therapy for depression or sadness, do you feel happier? If you entered therapy for anxiety, do you feel less anxious? Improvements in your target areas are indicators of positive progress.
2. Your thinking has shifted.
Another indicator of forward progress in therapy are changes in your thinking.You have less negative or destructive thoughts and more positive, constructive thoughts. Rather than fantasizing about things that aren’t attainable, you’re engaging in more realistic thinking and developing reachable goals. Thoughts lead to actions, so as your thinking shifts, your behaviors will shift as well.
3. Your behaviors have changed.
Another significant sign that therapy is moving in the right direction are behavioral changes. For instance, you’re leaving unwanted habits behind. Another example: You went to therapy to work on self-assertiveness. Now, you’re taking the initiative more often than before.
4. Your relationships with others are better.
Relationship improvements with your spouse, partner, or other loved ones are good indications treatment is working. One example is a calmer relationship that used to be filled with conflict before therapy. Fewer conflicts are a good sign your therapy is working. It also shows you’re using conflict resolution skills effectively.
5. You have better life satisfaction.
A better sense of satisfaction with your life is a positive milestone that treatment is helping you make good progress. You now feel that you’re getting more out of life. Better life satisfaction is also a motivator for you to keep up the good work.
6. Your diagnosis changes.
A great way to know you’re making progress in therapy is getting a diagnosis that’s improved. If you’re in treatment for depression, and you and your therapist agree the symptoms have dissipated, you’ve made significant progress.
Stick with It
Effective treatment causes significant changes in your life, but these changes happen gradually over time, not all at once. Therapy that works isn’t a one-shot deal, but it can be short-term.1 At least four to eight sessions are needed, and more sessions may be necessary if the problems are many or complex.
Be True to Yourself
You’re a unique person with a unique set of circumstances and issues. What’s right for another person may not be right for you. Don’t put a limit on what’s needed for you to feel better. Take your time to work through your issues, giving yourself as much time as you need. Your active participation, along with a competent therapist, helps get you where you want to be.2