The Factors that Make Mental Health Counseling Work

When you start therapy, you want to know that it’s going to work. Like any other product that you commit to, you want to know that it’s worth your time and money. It’s simple economics – you as the consumer of a product or service have a right to demand high quality, or take your business elsewhere.

Professional mental health counseling, as a service, is subject to these same laws of economics. Therapy, although extremely personal, also has to be effective – it has to work- in order to retain clients. In this article, we’ll explore multiple ways that counseling has proven to be successful so you can rest easy knowing you’re investing in something worthwhile.

Does mental health counseling work?

Yes. According to numerous medical and health authorities, mental health counseling is effective for treating a host of mental health disorders. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that psychotherapy (or talk-therapy) has been proven to reduce negative symptoms of mental illness and is both cost-effective and offers long-term results. 

In an article published in Counseling & Development, researchers asked themselves “does counseling work?” and found that not only is mental health counseling effective, but increased sessions resulted in better outcomes. So yes, keep up with your therapy and consider more sessions for better results.

Is online counseling effective?

If you’re wondering if counseling works, you might also be wondering if your new mode of therapy is effective as well. Teletherapy (or remote counseling) has also proven to be successful, by dozens of studies. According to a meta-analysis of 64 studies published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, treatment for mental health disorders provided over a computer was beneficial for clients and provided long-term results.

What does mental health counseling include that is effective?

So yes, mental health counseling is effective, but you might be wondering what makes it work. The APA outlines some of the qualities of a good therapist, such as a trusting relationship, ability to model interpersonal skills, implements a treatment plan and uses evidence-based research to name a few.

In addition to the qualities and education of the counselor or therapist, their method of practice will also influence the success of treatment. This article will further explain some of the factors that make counseling a proven approach to treating mental health issues.


The quality of the relationship between a therapist and client has a direct impact on whether the treatment will be successful. In order for an individual to make progress, there has to be openness and vulnerability. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that a strong client-therapist alliance was a predictor of positive clinical change, regardless of the type of treatment.

Processing time

Whether your stressors are daily life events or severe trauma, talking through issues can majorly benefit your mental wellbeing. Mental health counseling gives space for clients to grow in self-awareness as they reflect on their past, present and future.

Therapy encourages self-discovery and in our busy world we rarely have a platform to safely learn about ourselves with the help of an expert listener. Thoughts, feelings and concerns can be discussed without fear of judgment.

Changing thought patterns

Counselors and therapists often use what’s called cognitive behavior theory, or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is widely used to treat substance use disorder, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, phobias and more. A meta-analysis published in Cognitive Therapy and Research found that CBT is one of the most effective treatments across a range of different diagnoses and conditions.

CBT is a form of treatment that focuses on changing thoughts to change behaviors and resulting emotions. By identifying and interrupting negative or destructive thought patterns, a person can decrease stress and improve mood. 

Whether your counselor practices CBT in a structured way or weaves in elements, counseling is effective because it can help you change thought patterns, set goals and problem solve. These are all major skills that greatly impact mental wellness and can change your life in the process.

Coping skills

Learning how to recognize and handle strong emotions is a skill everyone should learn. Every person will encounter stress, anxiety, anger and a host of other painful emotions and learning how to deal with these feelings through therapy makes your investment worthwhile. 

In addition to coping skills, counseling often includes strategies that help to prevent those strong emotions, often called self-care or mindfulness. Self-care and mindfulness are ways to ground the body and mind in healthy habits to decrease the likelihood of an anxious or stressful event that could trigger negative mental health outcomes. There are hundreds of ways to make beneficial lifestyle changes and mental health counseling will help you to explore them.

Diagnosing and medication

Another proven benefit that points to the effectiveness of counseling is the access to professionals who can diagnose and prescribe medication. A formal diagnosis is an important step in figuring out appropriate treatment for mental illness and medication has helped millions of people lead more stable and satisfying lives.

Earn the mental health counseling you need today

Mental health counseling is a proven method to improve mental well-being. There are many factors that contribute to good therapy, such as a positive client-therapist relationship, evidence-based treatments like CBT and opportunities to learn coping and self-care practices.

Taking advantage of counseling, in-person or online, can majorly benefit your whole life. If you’re ready to find freedom through mental health counseling, reach out to Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling. Call 1-800-809-2925, or reach out today, to pursue helpful mental health counseling services on your own time.