How Effective Therapy Can Make a Difference

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated May 16, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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More people are discovering the benefits of effective therapy for mental and behavioral health conditions. Research shows that seeking professional advice and treatment options from a trained and licensed therapist can help with many mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety disorders. Therapy can also have positive effects on your life, such as better relationships and a developed sense of self-understanding. 

There are a variety of therapeutic methods available that can treat a wide range of mental health conditions. Still, therapy is not just for those with a mental health diagnosis. Effective therapy can help anyone in any circumstance.
Are you missing out on the benefits of therapy?

What is effective therapy?

Effective therapy can look different for each individual seeking help. Even two people with the same diagnosis or concern may benefit from different types of therapeutic treatments. When initiating the therapeutic process, it may help to have a broad understanding of some of the most common treatments and how they can assist with mental health conditions and life challenges.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy, often referred to by the acronym CBT, is considered by some mental health professionals to be the gold standard in therapeutic treatment for many mental health conditions. It can also have a significant impact on life concerns that are not related to a specific mental health diagnosis. These concerns might include high levels of stress, unhealthy behavior patterns, or relationship conflicts. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy rooted in the idea that changing a person’s thoughts can lead to altered emotions and positive behavioral change. CBT can be combined with other therapeutic techniques and may be used alongside other methods as the core of a therapeutic practice. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions can also involve evidence-based activities and resources, such as journal therapy, roleplaying, and developing coping skills. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions can take many forms and can treat various mental illnesses and symptoms, including but not limited to eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and personality disorders. The American Psychological Association (APA) and other professional organizations recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as an effective type of therapy for many. 

Holistic therapy

Holistic therapy is an umbrella term for a variety of therapeutic methods. The overarching goal of holistic therapy is to engage both a client’s mind and their body in approaching their mental health condition or life concern. Holistic therapy may combine traditional therapeutic treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and talk therapy, with what might be considered “alternative” medicine techniques such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice, and acupuncture. It’s important to understand that not all holistic therapy treatments have been heavily researched. However, some methods, such as deep breathing, have well-documented benefits for mental health conditions like anxiety. A holistic mental health professional may take an integrative approach, using treatment strategies from various modalities.

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo

Humanistic therapy
Humanistic therapy is another umbrella term to describe a group of therapeutic treatments with certain aspects and features in common. Humanistic therapy earned its name from its focus on the human, rather than the mental health condition or life issue the client may be seeking to change. Humanistic therapy operates on the idea that every person already has the ability and potential to live their fullest and most satisfying life, but that sometimes, people develop unhelpful attitudes, behavior patterns, and assumptions that can get in the way. 

According to sources like the American Psychological Association, humanistic processes focus on individual personal growth, maintaining that if people can be empowered with the knowledge and skills they need, they will be able to address their concerns. Specific examples of this therapeutic approach may include client-centered therapy, existential therapy, and Gestalt therapy, led by a mental health professional. 

With what can effective therapy help?

Finding a therapeutic treatment that works for you can have a significant impact on many different mental health conditions and life concerns. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a miracle cure for every condition, but with time and effort, many people have found relief and an increased sense of overall well-being through engaging with the therapeutic process.

Mental health conditions that therapy can address

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorders
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder
  • Social anxiety
  • Personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder
  • Panic attacks and panic disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Mood disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Phobias

Life concerns that may benefit from counseling

  • Relationship conflicts, including intimate partner concerns and tensions within a marriage
  • Complex family dynamics
  • Parenting issues
  • Life transition challenges such as starting a new job, moving to a new location, or ending a long-term relationship
  • Self-confidence issues
  • Body image concerns
  • Grief
  • Loss
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms
  • Negative attitudes or thoughts
  • Unwanted behavior patterns
  • Difficulty with recognizing or expressing emotion
  • Stress related to school, work, etc.
Who can provide effective therapy?
When meeting with a therapist, it’s important to make sure they have the proper training and credentials to provide effective therapy. To qualify for a license, most states require aspiring therapists to earn a master’s degree in counseling psychology, psychotherapy, marriage and family therapy, social work, or another related field. 

This kind of education ensures that therapists learn from experts with a wide range of knowledge and best practices in the field. Graduate students in psychotherapy programs are also typically required to complete a certain number of support hours in a clinical setting, under licensed supervision, to be eligible for a license, so when you meet with a licensed therapist, you know they already have extensive experience working with patients. 

Finding an effective therapist

It may seem daunting to find a therapist who can provide appropriate treatment for your needs. However, there are several helpful resources to assist you in this process. Primary care physicians, for example, can be a good source of information regarding therapists in your local area. These medical professionals may even be able to point you to a licensed therapist specifically trained in the area of mental health with which you’re seeking help. You can also ask friends and family about their experiences with therapists or perform a quick Google search.

If you are having difficulty finding a local therapist with expertise in your specific area of need, you might want to consider an online service. Online therapy platforms such as BetterHelp can provide to thousands of fully accredited and licensed therapists with knowledge in a wide range of treatment areas. This may include cognitive behavioral therapy, holistic therapy, humanistic therapy, and others. 

One recent study found that clients receiving online therapy services experienced “high levels of satisfaction” in part because of the convenience of therapeutic treatment. If you are hoping to explore different effective therapy options, online therapy may be a more convenient option for you. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Are you missing out on the benefits of therapy?


Effective therapy can make a positive difference in a person’s life, regardless of whether they have been officially diagnosed with a mental health condition. Connecting with a trained and licensed therapist may have positive effects on your life, including improving relationships and enhancing self-understanding. Online therapy may be a helpful and convenient method of finding a therapist who is well-matched for your specific therapeutic requirements. Find a qualified therapist today.
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