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Many people experience a time in their life when they feel a sense of being overwhelmed by their worries or being unable to cope with what life throws at them. Some seek the help of counsellors, therapists or psychologists to feel better. But how do you know if therapy is working for you?

This blog is part 1 of a 2 blog series. In this blog we will explore what you should look for in your relationship with your therapist and how this may indicate whether you are making progress.

When you first meet your therapist, your main focus will be on presenting the problem that you are facing and building a trusting relationship with your therapist. This can be done over several sessions and is something that is always developing over time.

We do not however always click with the persons that we meet. There are times when the therapist and client are not the right fit. It’s not necessarily out of lack of effort or motivation from either side. It could simply be that it’s not a good match. The modality that the therapist uses might also not be the right fit for you. If you feel that you are not connecting, acknowledge this. It might be that you need to find a different therapist who fits better with your needs. 

When there is a good fit however, you are likely to look forward to your sessions and your conversations are more open. This can within itself be a sign of progress. When the therapeutic relationship is strong, there is more openness to discuss the problems that you face, and you feel more secure that the therapist is listening and understanding you. You also do not feel the need to agree with everything that the therapist says or feel pressured to answer in a certain way.

Awareness about whether therapy is working can come from the therapist themselves. They will be able to notice any changes from when you first entered the therapy room to the 5th, 10th or even 50th session. A therapist should be able to answer whether they have seen these changes and whether they think you are closer to your goal.

If you feel like you are not making progress or are frustrated with the sessions you’ve had so far, do not be afraid to bring this up with your therapist. A discussion about the goals set and whether work done so far is or is not reaping results will allow you the opportunity to find a better way to approach the issue you are facing, while also strengthening your therapeutic relationship. If you bring it up with your therapist however, and still feel unsure or feel that your questions were not answered, it might be time to seek the help of another therapist.

In the next blog, we will be looking into further detail about goals set in therapy and how these can be monitored to better understand if therapy is working for you.

Petra Borg is a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist currently reading for a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy from the Gestalt Therapy Institute Malta (GPTIM) and working at Willingness as a Trainee Psychotherapist. She has experience as a Triage Officer and has also worked closely with Willingness over several years, coordinating the international internship programme and providing support over diverse events and initiatives.