What Proportion of People Fail to Benefit From Psychotherapy?

August 19, 2023
David Sunnyside

Psychotherapy, which is sometimes called talk therapy or counseling, helps people deal with a variety of mental health issues and problems. It may be used as an alternative to medication or in conjunction with it. Among its many benefits, psychotherapy can help people manage their stress levels and break out of unhelpful patterns of behavior, cope with serious or chronic illnesses, handle the trauma of a sexual assault or deal with problems in relationships.

But not everyone who goes to a therapist gets better. In a world where modern medicine seems to be overly eager to prescribe a pill for every ailment, psychotherapy stands out as a powerful and useful treatment option for a wide range of conditions and disorders.

While the number of people who fail to benefit from psychotherapy isn’t well known, research suggests that about a quarter of all clients stop going to therapy before they improve. But figuring out what causes this premature dropout is tricky.

A key question is how to define what constitutes “dropout.” One common approach is to use a client’s failure to attend a certain number of sessions as a definition. Other definitions are based on the client’s ability to demonstrate improvement or progress on a treatment plan.

Another factor is whether the type of psychotherapy is right for a client. Some types of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT), are more effective than others. And the “chemistry” between a therapist and a client can be important.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram