Can Therapy Help?


At some time in our lives, each of us may feel overwhelmed and might need help dealing with our problems. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 30 million Americans need help dealing with feelings and problems that seem beyond their control -- problems with a marriage or relationship, a family situation, or dealing with losing a job, the death of a loved one, depression, stress, burnout, or substance abuse. Those losses and stresses of daily living can at times be significantly distressing and incapacitating. Sometimes we need outside help from a trained, licensed professional in order to work through these problems. Even so, some people find it hard to get started or stay in therapy. Briefly, here is some basic information to help you in your thinking about whether to take advantage of counseling.

You Should Consider Therapy If...

  • Nothing you do seems to feel rewarding or make you happy and you begin to lack hope.
  • You have no one to talk to about your feelings, thoughts, or concerns.
  • You have encountered a particular challenge which you are unable to resolve.
  • You find yourself engaging in self-destructive behaviors. For instance, you drink too much alcohol and become overly aggressive.
  • Emotional difficulties make it hard for you to function from day to day. For example, you’re unable to concentrate on assignments and your job performance suffers as a result.
  • You feel sad, angry, or anxious most of the time.
  • You are troubled by emotional difficulties facing family members or close friends.
  • What does research show about the effectiveness of therapy?

    Research suggests that therapy successfully reduces depression and anxiety and related symptoms- such as pain, fatigue and nausea. Therapy has also been found to increase survival time for heart surgery and cancer patients, and it can have a positive effect on the body's immune system. Research increasingly supports the idea that emotional and physical health are very closely linked and that therapy can improve a person's overall health status.

    There is convincing evidence that most people who have at least several sessions of therapy are far better off than untreated individuals with emotional difficulties. One major study showed that 50 percent of patients noticeably improved after eight sessions while 75 percent of individuals in therapy improved by the end of six months. Therapy with children is similar in effectiveness to therapy with adults.

    If you begin therapy, how do you gain the most from it?

    There are many approaches to outpatient therapy and various formats in which it may occur, including individual, group and family therapy. Despite the differences, all therapy is a two-way process that works especially well when clients and their therapists communicate openly. Research has shown that the outcome of therapy is improved when the therapist and client agree early about what the major problems are and how therapy can help.

    When you enter into therapy you and I will both have responsibilities in establishing and maintaining a good working relationship. Be clear about your expectations and share any concerns that may arise. Therapy works best when you attend all scheduled sessions and give some forethought to what you want to discuss with me during each one. Therapy provides a supportive environment to talk openly and confidentially about concerns and feelings. I consider maintaining your confidentiality extremely important and will answer your questions regarding those rare circumstances when confidential information might need to be shared.

    Individual therapy goals vary and may include reducing depression or anxiety, improving self-esteem, enhancing relationship skills, and helping you manage and cope with emotions. Individual therapy can also help you to feel better and function at your best. It can help in achieving a greater understanding and perspective on life experiences (family upbringing, school peer experiences, relationship break-up, academic issues, death, separation, loss, and adjustment to life changes).

    How can you evaluate whether therapy is working well?

    As you begin therapy, we will attempt to establish clear goals for our time together. Perhaps you want to overcome feelings of hopelessness associated with depression. Or maybe you would like to control a fear that disrupts your daily life. Keep in mind that certain tasks require more time to accomplish than others. You may need to adjust some of your goals depending on how long you plan to be in therapy.

    It is a good sign if you begin to feel a sense of relief, and a sense of hope. People often feel a wide variety of emotions during therapy. Some qualms about therapy that people may have result from their having difficulty discussing painful and troubling experiences. When you begin to feel relief or hope, it can be a positive sign indicating that you are starting to explore your thoughts and behavior.

    We should spend time periodically reviewing your progress. Although there are other considerations affecting the duration of therapy, success in reaching your primary goals should be a major factor in deciding when therapy should end.

    Therapy may not be easy, but those who are willing to work in close partnership during their treatment often find relief from their emotional distress and begin to lead more productive and fulfilling lives.

    To schedule an appointment with Dr. le Jacq-Smith or for a free 15 minute phone consultation call 401-243-4199 now or email:

    Ocean State Psychology
    1445 Wampanoag Trail, Suite 108A
    Riverside, Rhode Island 02915

    Ocean State Psychology provides counseling and therapy for adults and children and serves the following communities: East Providence Barrington Riverside Providence Warren Bristol Pawtucket Lincoln Smithfield Cranston Cumberland North Providence Warwick and Seekonk, MA.