Ask a Therapist: “How Does Therapy Work?” (answered by Dr. Rohini Gupta)

Rohini Gupta, PsyD

Today Dr. Rohini Gupta continues our popular “Ask A Therapist” series by explaining her perspective about how and why therapy works.

I strongly believe that a combination of factors lead to profound change in therapy. In my experience, the factors that help people change include a strong relationship with the therapist, self-awareness, and willingness to make changes in your life.

A strong relationship between you and your therapist is one in which you feel safe to be who you are and trust that your therapist genuinely cares about you and believes in you. This relationship creates a context where difficult conversations can happen. Therapy works best when the relationship is collaborative and respects the expertise of each person, the therapist’s clinical expertise and your expertise about yourself. Although the focus of therapy often begins with looking at what is not working, it can be just as helpful to talk about what is working and what has worked in the past. This can help you and your therapist to draw on the resources you already have, maybe even surprising yourself with the strength and resiliency already within you.

Therapy allows you to reveal things that have remained hidden. Bringing into awareness beliefs and feelings about yourself, others, and views of the world can help you give voice to what may have been operating under the surface. You can make known what has long been unknown.

Insight and awareness can help you have empathy for yourself and others. This kindness towards yourself and others can be a powerful agent of change. Having awareness helps you figure out ways you can take tangible steps toward the changes you desire.

There is no such thing as a “cookie cutter” approach to therapy. What may work for one person may not work as well for another. There are certainly factors that help us understand why therapy might work. If you have been in therapy before, I ask you to consider what has worked for you and what has not been so helpful. Communicating this to your therapist can be a good place to start therapy and help you understand what your unique needs might be.

~ Rohini Gupta, Psy.D.

Dr. Rohini Gupta is a therapist at The Catalyst Center in Denver, CO. Her specialties include:


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