How did the therapy help you?

"Therapy helped me"

Psychotherapy is often a big but crucial step

04/14/2014 From Dr. Christine Amrhein

"Depression: the new widespread disease", "Panic disorder: When fear dominates life", "Alcohol makes people sick" - is everything getting worse and worse when it comes to mental illness?

The media are increasingly reporting on mental illnesses and the number of people affected. There is virtually no reporting on the good chances of success or on successful graduates of psychotherapy. With the loose series of interviews presented here with people who have been successfully treated with psychological problems, would like to encourage reluctant sufferers to take this step with a decisive effect. Straight to the interviews.

For many, the benefits of psychotherapy are great - even after long hesitation

A non-representative online survey by Stiftung Warentest from 2011 with almost 4,000 participants examined how many people with mental problems start psychotherapy - and what experiences they have had with the therapy. The results clearly show that the therapy helped many people well or very well. Her mental suffering has decreased significantly and her everyday difficulties have decreased.

Despite several years of hesitation, three quarters of those questioned sought professional help for their problems at some point. The variance was large: just under a third decided on psychotherapy within the first year, a fifth waited longer than 10 years. The reasons given for waiting so long were often that the problems were not severe enough or that they wanted to be dealt with on their own. The vast majority reported having had outpatient psychotherapy.

At the beginning of the therapy, a little more than three quarters of the respondents had “big” or “very big” mental problems. After completing the therapy, however, 57 percent stated that their emotional stress was now “low” to “very low”. 29 percent reported "moderate" mental stress.

The psychotherapy helped to alleviate the previous problems and to increase the positive experience. At the end of the therapy, a good two thirds of the survey participants reported more joy in life, 63 percent a better self-esteem and 61 percent a better way of dealing with everyday stress. Many also stated that the restrictions in everyday life, at work, in the family and in leisure time had decreased significantly as a result of the therapy.

Testimonials from people whose mental health problems have been successfully treated

  • Britta, 46, behavior therapy
  • Christina, 23, behavior therapy
  • Dörthe, 43, EMDR therapy
  • Katrin, 27, psychodrama
  • Manuela, 36, behavior therapy
  • Sergei, 40, psychoanalysis
  • Silvana, 43, anxiety-winter depression
  • Tanja, 31, talk therapy
  • Thomas, 45, psychodrama

Decisive for the success of the therapy: a good relationship with the therapist and active cooperation

For many of those affected, outpatient psychotherapy is a sensible and helpful solution. To increase the chances of success of such a treatment, it is important to

  • Choose your therapist carefully.
  • Before starting therapy, find out about various treatment facilities and the offers of various therapists.
  • To ask the therapist at the beginning of the therapy how much experience he has with the specific problem, how he will proceed and whether he will use certain methods.
  • Getting involved through motivated and active cooperation: A number of studies have shown that these are important factors for psychotherapy success.

Above all, however, you should listen to your “gut feeling”: Do you find the therapist sympathetic? Do you feel comfortable with him or her? If so, the chances of good cooperation and successful treatment are good. Because a good relationship between patient and therapist is important in order to be able to achieve changes in therapy. Most of the respondents were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the behavior of their practitioner and reported that he behaved in a supportive and calming manner, was open to questions and criticism and was thorough in solving problems.

What is actually done in therapy?

The respondents reported the following content and focus of their psychotherapy:

  • "Listening and talking" (98 percent)
  • Homework between meetings (41 percent).
  • Taking medication (33 percent)
  • Relaxation techniques (31 percent)
  • Behavioral training (29 percent)
  • Measures such as breathing exercises, role play or hypnosis were mentioned less frequently

Are there "side effects"?

In addition to successes and positive changes, therapy also includes very frequent, usually temporary, undesirable effects. Some of the respondents also reported such "side effects": 46 percent stated that dealing with unpleasant topics had led to more stress at times. 39 percent reported that new problems had arisen during therapy, and 25 percent had experienced anxiety in difficult situations during therapy.

Nevertheless, most of them successfully completed the therapy: 80 percent of those questioned stayed on until the end of the therapy, only 20 percent stopped the treatment prematurely. 45 percent of those who dropped out said that the therapy had not brought them any improvement.