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Does Therapy Work?

What's the Point of Therapy?

There's a regrettably long article in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine in which Daphne Merkin, a woman who's been in and out of psychologists' offices for 40 years, questions the point of the practice.

Therapy definitely makes you more aware, but that awareness doesn't always translate into happiness. It doesn't help that no one can provide a definitive answer to if and when you should stop. Freud said the point of therapy was to convert "hysterical misery" into "common unhappiness," but has anyone ever had too much happiness?

More than half the time, patients and therapists aren't even on the same page. "Patients want answers," Merkin writes, "psychoanalysts ask questions." They're really not even supposed to give advice!

So how do we know we're really getting anything out of it, besides catharsis and the self-congratulations that come with doing everything we can? Is there a point at all?

Join The Conversation
palomiis palomiis 7 years
I think that the point is to go with the idea that you have to change and nobody but you is going to and not to expect that the therapist is goin' to do that for you.. but with my few experience i see that everybody's afraid of changes 'cause something new is scary and don't know what to expect.. but somehow that's the point.. to take a step at a time. and learn from it..
stephley stephley 7 years
I wouldn't judge therapy by what this woman writes - she sounds as if she's more interested in collecting therapists and clever stories than actually doing anything to make herself or her life better.
amber512 amber512 7 years
That's disappointing! I think I really need to see a therapist, but then I wonder if it will even be worth it!
xgreenfairyx xgreenfairyx 7 years
This is kinda why I gave up being a psychologist. After all the school, training and field work, psychology only works if the client is willing to change. Psychologists only put up the framework, psychiatrists give you drugs. If you BELIEVE in therapy, it can work, just like religion. The first tenant of psychology is, you do not give people the answers; they already know what the answer is.
Pistil Pistil 7 years
I think therapy is meant to help you help yourself. In my experience (I don't have a lot of experience) there was nothing I was told that I didn't already know. It was just a matter of taking action for my self.
Studio16 Studio16 7 years
For me, therapy was good because it was someone to talk to. I felt like the people who should have listened to my problems weren't, so I went to see a doctor. She didn't offer advice, but I found that the more I talked my problems out, the more I found ways to solve them on my own.
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