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  • Hansika Khokhar

5 Signs Your Therapy Is Working

Therapy is a journey, and like any journey, it's dotted with milestones that indicate progress and growth. Whether you're seeking therapy to address specific issues or simply aiming for personal development, recognizing the signs that your therapy sessions are working is crucial for staying motivated and committed to the process. While progress in therapy can be gradual and sometimes imperceptible, there are clear indicators that signal positive change and healing.

Here are five ways you can tell your therapy is working:

1. You Feel Better

The most immediate and noticeable sign that therapy is working is that you begin to feel better. This improvement might manifest in various ways, from feeling more at ease and less anxious to experiencing moments of genuine joy and appreciation for life. Therapy helps you develop coping mechanisms to manage stress and navigate challenges effectively. As Gilza Fort-Martinez, LMFT, points out, you might notice a return to activities you enjoy, increased presence in the moment, and a shift in focus from dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

2. You Feel Supported By Your Therapist

A vital aspect of successful therapy is the therapeutic alliance between you and your therapist. Feeling supported, understood, and safe in the therapeutic relationship is a significant indicator of progress. While your therapist isn't your friend or someone who always agrees with you, they should provide a supportive environment where you can explore your thoughts and emotions without judgment. Research suggests that the quality of the therapeutic relationship significantly impacts the effectiveness of therapy, highlighting the importance of feeling connected to your therapist.

3. Your Blind Spots Are Coming Into Focus

One of the transformative aspects of therapy is gaining insight into your own patterns of thinking and behavior. Often, we have blind spots—unconscious patterns or beliefs that influence our actions without our awareness. A skilled therapist can help illuminate these blind spots, facilitating self-awareness and understanding. While it can be uncomfortable to confront these aspects of ourselves, it's an essential step toward personal growth and change. Recognizing and addressing these blind spots allows you to make different choices and break free from old patterns that no longer serve you.

4. Your Relationships Are Improving

Therapy isn't just about individual healing; it also has a profound impact on your relationships with others. As you gain insight into yourself and develop healthier coping mechanisms, you're better equipped to navigate interpersonal dynamics and communicate effectively. Improved relationships with family, friends, romantic partners, and colleagues are a significant sign of progress in therapy. While conflicts and challenges may still arise, you'll find yourself approaching them with greater empathy, patience, and understanding, leading to more fulfilling connections.

5. You’re Unlearning Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Throughout life, we develop coping mechanisms to deal with stress, trauma, and difficult emotions. While these strategies may have been adaptive at the time, they can become maladaptive or harmful in adulthood. Therapy provides a space to identify and unlearn these unhealthy coping mechanisms, replacing them with healthier alternatives. It's a process of self-discovery and self-compassion, allowing you to break free from ingrained patterns and live more authentically. While unlearning these behaviors can be challenging and may take time, progress in this area indicates that therapy is making a meaningful impact on your life.

Most importantly, keep in mind that your therapy is still working, even if you temporarily feel worse. Experiencing occasional discomfort or feeling worse during therapy is a normal and expected part of the healing journey. It reflects your willingness to confront difficult emotions, challenge ingrained patterns, and engage in the process of self-discovery and growth. Trust in yourself, trust in the therapeutic process, and know that temporary discomfort can ultimately lead to profound healing and transformation.

Here's what our Anchoridge clinicians had to say about how to notice when you're healing:

You notice yourself noticing yourself.  You start paying attention to your own behaviours and responses and actively engage with your mind and body to note these observations. You are exhausted for a time after your session.  Your body and mind is processing - it's very taxing.”

“Your therapist knows that you are progressing when you come back to session and say "I've been thinking...." Your therapist knows that you are progressing when you come back to session and share that you tried a strategy suggested.  Even trying is movement!”

-Jennifer Aubry (RSW, MSW)

Learn more about Jen by clicking here.

"I use a variety of indicators to assess if a client is recovering any reaching treatment goals, like if they report decreased symptoms, if they report and display improve emotion regulation or distress tolerance, but my favourite indicator is when clients reflect for themselves that they notice an improvement and feel better.”

-Kate Reid (RSW, MSW)

Learn more about Kate by clicking here.

“Showing vulnerability to your clinician is a big sign that your therapy is working for you.” 

-Sheila Larocque (student clinician, RP (Qualifying))

Learn more about Sheila by clicking here.

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