by Clinton Power

Did you know that psychotherapy is one of the best treatments available with the least amount of side effects for treating depression, anxiety, relationships issues and a whole range of mental health issues?

I’ll admit I’m biased as I’ve been working in this field for over the last decade. But I base my statement not only on the research, which shows that psychotherapy is a safe and effective treatment option, but on my personal experience of working with hundreds of people who have walked into my office in a distressed state and been able to bring about positive change in their life and relationships through our work together.

Decades of research shows psychotherapy works

Outcomes research for psychotherapy has shown  that people that utilise psychotherapy are better off than 80% of the untreated population. These are compelling reasons to give psychotherapy a go.

Research also shows that previous studies of the effectiveness of antidepressants were exaggerated due to pharmaceutical companies withholding the publication of negative or weak trials, as well as purchasing and distributing large amounts of journals that reported positive outcomes.

Too often today people are turning to medication as the first line of response to mood problems such as depression and anxiety. And sadly GP’s are often too willing to prescribe them without exploring the options, including psychotherapy, with their clients.

What’s more, clinical trials have shown there is often no or little gains from drug treatments when compared to psychotherapy alone. However, utilising psychotherapy in tandem with antidepressant medication has been shown to be effective. Unfortunately, many people are taking medication without any form of psychotherapy.

So if you have the choice of taking a pill (with often unpredictable side effects) or trying psychotherapy, you’re going to get results as good as or better than taking medication alone.

Common factors research

It’s important to note that common factors research shows that there are a number of factors outside of a therapist’s therapeutic model or approach that can positively impact your results with psychotherapy.

Factors accounting for change in therapyEssentially, you can see from the diagram to the right that the factors that bring about change in therapy are due to:

  • 40% client factors that happen outside the therapy room
  • 30% relationship factors, that have to do with your connection with your therapist
  • 15% hope and expectancy, that represent how much hope and expectation you have that you can change
  • 15% model and technique, which is the therapist’s therapeutic approach and techniques

This is important to keep in mind, because when you start working with a psychotherapist you want to make sure that:

  • you feel you have connected and are developing a strong relationship and alliance
  • you feel you’re developing a safe and trusting therapeutic relationship
  • your therapist empowers you with realistic and hopeful expectations of change
  • you are discovering various new skills and techniques that can be applied to your unique situation

It’s these factors that are essentially more important than whether your therapist is a counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist, social worker, clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.

So if psychotherapy works, why aren’t you trying it?


  1. The power of support that a good therapist provides cannot be underestimated. It is life-changing.

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