We all experience “down days” when life looks anything but rosy. But when those days become weeks or even months, it may be time to seek help. Whether it’s anxiety, burnout, stress, or a more serious mental health issue, therapy may be just what the doctor ordered to help you find your footing when life seems out of control. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of therapy and explore the most popular types of therapy.

Don’t think therapy is for you or someone you know? Think again. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults in America experience some type of mental health disorder and one in 20 suffers from a serious mental illness. (55) Everyday mental health problems can include anxiety (affecting 19% of adults), relationship issues, substance abuse, and even loneliness. (1)(33)(35)(55) Serious mental illness includes bipolar disorder, major depression, personality disorders, and psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. Whether minor or major, these illnesses can impair a person’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. (13) If something triggers distress or interferes with your daily life or relationships, therapy may help.

Did you know? Only about 44% of people with mental health issues seek help. (34)

What is therapy?

Therapy—or more specifically psychotherapy—in one form or another can be traced as far back as ancient Greece. (32) But modern talk therapy has much more familiar roots. Considered the “father of psychotherapy,” Sigmund Freud was one of the first, and likely the most famous, doctors to employ talk therapy to treat patients with mental and emotional problems. (48) Since Freud’s groundbreaking work in the early 19th century, talk therapy has become standard practice in the world of psychology. Today, psychotherapy helps millions of people learn how to deal with a broad range of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties so they can increase their sense of well-being and function better in the world. (53)

During a therapy session, a therapist will use one or more types of scientifically-validated therapies to help the patient work through their problems. (53) The most common forms of psychotherapy include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, couples or family therapy, and group therapy. (41)


benefits of therapy
One in five people experience some form of mental health issue at some point in their lives. (34)


The importance of therapy in mental health

According to the National Institutes of Health, a mental illness can be defined as a health condition that changes a person’s thinking, feelings, or behavior (or all three) and causes distress and difficulty functioning. (21) Therapy can provide a safe, empathetic, and non-judgmental space in which to deal with psychological or emotional issues. (26) These problems can be classified as major, moderate, or mild. However, when most people think of therapy, they typically think of its benefits for major or long-term psychological problems such as:

  • Anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and phobias
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder
  • Personality disorders such as antisocial behavior, borderline personality disorder, and narcissism
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including trauma from mental and/or physical abuse or wartime experience
  • Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia (33)

But the benefits of therapy can improve the lives of people with mild-to-moderate forms of mental health issues. A therapist might be useful if you find yourself struggling with any of the following:

  • Addiction, such as drug, food, and internet/smartphone addiction (12)(30)(31)
  • Anger and aggression management (27)
  • Family problems (45)
  • Grief (23)
  • Relationship issues (6)
  • Serious illness (44)(54)

Why therapy is good for everyone

Whether your mental health is terrific, mediocre, or severe, interfering with your ability to function on a frequent basis, therapy can help. In addition to helping those with serious mental illness, psychotherapy can provide a safe space to talk about everything from grief to family problems to the inability to forgive. If you’re going through a difficult time—like a tough breakup or the transition into retirement—talk therapy can help you deal with it. (4)

Therapy can also boost well-being by helping to improve self-confidence, cultivate resilience, and clarify goals. By focusing on personal growth, well-being therapy may benefit anyone looking to optimize their life. (14)

Historically, however, therapy has been stigmatized, and that has prevented many people from seeking out this useful type of treatment. (39) Fortunately, professional and Olympic athletes like Kevin Love, Michael Phelps, Naomi Osaka, and Simone Biles are speaking out about their own struggles and the importance of mental health. (15) This may help to ease the stigma surrounding mental health issues and open the door to a wider acceptance of therapy for everyone.

Did you know? The American Psychological Association (APA) notes that about 75% of people who embark on therapy experience at least some benefit. (49)

Types of therapy

There are numerous types of psychotherapy, each with its own benefits. Here are six of the most popular.

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) uses talk therapy to explore the relationship between a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This can help to identify unhealthy or self-destructive patterns so that the patient and therapist can work to reduce or eliminate them. (51) Studies show that it can be helpful for those with:

  • Anxiety (9)(25)(50)
  • Depression (8)(36)
  • Eating disorders (28)
  • Insomnia (8)(42)
  • OCD (9)(38)
  • Panic disorder (37)(40)
  • PTSD (5)(16)
  • Substance abuse (43)

2. Dialectical behavioral therapy

This type of therapy was originally developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder who were chronically suicidal. (29)(50) Today its use has expanded to help people develop new coping skills and find a balance between acceptance and change in their lives. One randomized controlled trial found that dialectical behavioral therapy was also effective for those with eating disorders. (41)

3. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has been found to help those suffering from PTSD. During this type of therapy, a person is asked to recall disturbing memories and images while simultaneously focusing on eye movements, finger tapping, or another kind of external stimulus. The person is then asked to focus on any new associations or sensations and make a positive statement about the traumatic memory. The process is then repeated with the inclusion of the positive statement. This type of therapy is designed to desensitize the negative aspects of the traumatic memory. (41) Studies suggest that EMDR may be better suited than CBT for treating PTSD. (11)

4. Family and couples therapy

All families and couples experience bumps along the road. By counseling all family members involved, therapy can improve communication, address any behavioral or substance issues, enhance coping skills, and provide support. (2) One meta-analysis in the journal Family Process reported that families experiencing challenges with behavior or substance abuse can benefit from structured family therapy to a greater degree than using other types of therapy. (18) Another study published in the journal Psychotherapy suggests that couples therapy is effective for resolving conflict or distress the couple is experiencing. (19)



benefits of therapy family therapy
Group therapy can provide support and connection to people with similar mental health challenges.


5. Group therapy

Group therapy is often used for those dealing with addiction, anxiety, depression, LGBTQ issues, loss, OCD, or a serious illness. (17)(52) During a group session, which is led by a trained therapist, a small group of people experiencing similar challenges can share their experiences and support one another. An analysis of 42 studies that appeared in Psychotherapy Research found that group therapy provided better results than standard treatment for mood disorders. (22) When combined with CBT, group therapy has been shown to be particularly effective for addiction and OCD. (24)(46)

6. Interpersonal therapy

This type of therapy focuses on a person’s relationships with others and is used to improve social strategies for people experiencing depression or social isolation. (41) One study involving 162 new moms suffering from postpartum depression found that 12 weeks of interpersonal therapy—with or without antidepressant medication—improved the participant’s mood and social adjustment. (37)

How to find a therapist

There are several resources to help you find a therapist in your area. The APA suggests starting your search at the Psychologist Locator or the National Register of Health Service Psychologists if you live in the U.S. (20) Individuals living in Canada can check out Good Therapy.org for a comprehensive listing of Canadian therapists, counselors, and psychologists. Prefer online sessions? There are a growing number of online resources that provide web-based, text, and/or phone or video telehealth services. Research suggests that this type of therapy is just as effective as face-to-face therapy for anxiety and depression. (3)(7)

Whichever style of therapy fits your comfort zone, the APA recommends asking a few key questions before beginning therapy:

  • Is the therapist licensed?
  • Is the therapist experienced in dealing with your specific problem?
  • What kind of therapy does the therapist specialize in?
  • Is the therapy covered by your health insurance? If so, are there limits to the number of sessions covered by your insurance? (20)

The bottom line

The benefits of therapy can be observed in supporting a wide range of mental health issues. Just remember, not every type of therapy works for every person or every situation. Whether you opt for in-person, online, or telehealth sessions, it’s important that you trust your therapist and feel comfortable with them. Once you do find a good fit, keep in mind that therapy may take time before you see improvement.

Fullscript simplifies supplement dispensing

Create your dispensary today I'm a patient
  1. Adler, A.B., LeardMann, C.A., Roenfeldt, K.A., Jacobson, I.G., & Forbes, D. (2020). Magnitude of problematic anger and its predictors in the Millennium Cohort. BMC Public Health 20, 1168.
  2. Ahluwalia, H., Anand, T., & Suman, L.N. (2018). Marital and family therapy. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 60(Suppl 4), S501–S505.
  3. Andrews, G., Basu, A., Cuijpers, P., Craske, M.G., McEvoy, P., English, C.L. & Newby, J.M. (2018). Computer therapy for anxiety and depression disorders is effective, acceptable and practical health care: An updated meta-analysis. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 55, 70-78.
  4. Benefits of talking therapies. (2018). National Health Services. https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/talking-therapies-and-counselling/benefits-of-talking-therapies/
  5. Bisson, J.I., Roberts, N.P., Andrew, M., Cooper, R. & Lewis, C. (2013). Psychological therapies for chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2013(12), CD003388.
  6. Bradbury, T.N. & Bodenmann, G. (2020). Interventions for Couples. Annual Reviews in Clinical Psychology, 7;16:99-123.
  7. Brenes, G.A., Danhauer, S.C., Lyles, M.F., Hogan, P.E., & Miller, M.E. (2015). Telephone-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy and telephone-delivered nondirective supportive therapy for rural older adults with generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 72(10), 1012–1020.
  8. Carney, C.E., Edinger, J.D., Kuchibhatla, M., Lachowski, A.M., Bogouslavsky, O., Krystal, A.D., & Shapiro, C.M. (2017). Cognitive behavioral insomnia therapy for those with insomnia and depression: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Sleep, 40(4), zsx019.
  9. Carpenter, J.K., Andrews, L.A., Witcraft, S.M., Powers, M.B., Smits, J., & Hofmann, S.G. (2018). Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and related disorders: A meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Depression and Anxiety, 35(6), 502–514.
  10. Carter, J.C., Kenny, T.E., Singleton, C., Van Wijk, M. & Heath, O. (2020). Dialectical behavior therapy self-help for binge-eating disorder: A randomized controlled study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 53(3):451-460.
  11. Chen, L., Zhang, G., Hu, M. & Liang, X. (2015). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing versus cognitive-behavioral therapy for adult posttraumatic stress disorder: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Nervous Mental Disease, 203(6):443-51.
  12. Dimitrijević, I., Popović, N., Sabljak, V., Škodrić-Trifunović, V., & Dimitrijević. N. (2015). Food addiction-diagnosis and treatment. Psychiatria Danubina, 27(1):101-6.
  13. Evans, T.S., Berkman, N., Brown, C., Gaynes, B., & Webe, R.P. (2016).Disparities Within Serious Mental Illness [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2016 May. (Technical Briefs, No. 25.) Background. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK368430/
  14. Fava, G.A. (1999). Well-being therapy: conceptual and technical issues. Psychotherapy andPsychosomatics, 68(4):171-9.
  15. Gavin, K. (2021). A game changer for mental health Sports icons open up. Michigan Medicine. University of Michigan. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/brain-health/a-game-changer-for-mental-health-sports-icons-open-up
  16. Gillies, D., Taylor, F., Gray, C., O’Brien, L., & D’Abrew, N. (2013). Psychological therapies for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents (Review). Evidence Based Child Health, 8(3):1004-116.
  17. Hall, W.J., Rosado, B.R., & Chapman, M.V. (2019). Findings from a feasibility study of an adapted cognitive behavioral therapy group intervention to reduce depression among LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer) young people. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8(7), 949.
  18. Hartnett, D., Carr, A., Hamilton, E. & O’Reilly, G. (2017). The effectiveness of functional family therapy for adolescent behavioral and substance misuse problems: A meta-analysis. Family Process, 56(3):607-619.
  19. Hewison, D., Casey, P. & Mwamba, N. (2016). The effectiveness of couple therapy: Clinical outcomes in a naturalistic United Kingdom setting. Psychotherapy (Chic), 53(4):377-387.
  20. How do I find a good therapist? (2017). American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/finding-good-therapist
  21. Information about Mental Illness and the Brain. (2007). National Institutes of Health (US); Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. NIH Curriculum Supplement Series [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health (US). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK20369/
  22. Janis, R.A., Burlingame, G.M., Svien, H., Jensen, J. & Lundgreen, R. (2021). Group therapy for mood disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychotherapy Research, 31(3):369-385.
  23. Johannsen, M., Damholdt, M.F., Zachariae, R., Lundorff, M., Farver-Vestergaard, I., & O’Connor, M. (2019). Psychological interventions for grief in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Affective Disorders, 253:69-86.
  24. Jónsson, H. & Hougaard E. (2009). Group cognitive behavioural therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Psychiatr Scand, 119(2):98-106.
  25. Kaczkurkin, A.N. & Foa, E.B. (2015). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: an update on the empirical evidence. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 17(3), 337–346.
  26. Kallergis G. (2019). [The contribution of the relationship between therapist-patient and the context of the professional relationship]. Psychiatriki, 30(2):165-174.
  27. Lee, A.H. & DiGiuseppe, R. (2018). Anger and aggression treatments: a review of meta-analyses. Current Opinions in Psychology, 19:65-74.
  28. Linardon, J., Wade, T.D., de la Piedad Garcia, X. & Brennan, L. (2017). The efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for eating disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(11):1080-1094.
  29. Linehan, M.M., Korslund, K.E., Harned, M.S., Gallop, R.J., Lungu, A., Neacsiu, A.D., McDavid, J., … Murray-Gregory, A.M. (2015). Dialectical behavior therapy for high suicide risk in individuals with borderline personality disorder: a randomized clinical trial and component analysis. JAMA Psychiatry, 72(5):475-82.
  30. Lunde, L.H. & Skjøtskift, S. (2012). Group therapy for drug addiction. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen, 132(2):132-3.
  31. Malinauskas, R. & Malinauskiene, V. (2019). A meta-analysis of psychological interventions for Internet/smartphone addiction among adolescents. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 8(4), 613–624.
  32. Marks S. (2017). Psychotherapy in historical perspective. History of the Human Sciences, 30(2), 3–16.
  33. Mental Disorders. (2021). Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/mentaldisorders.html
  34. Mental illness. NIH: National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness
  35. Mushtaq, R., Shoib, S., Shah, T., & Mushtaq, S. (2014). Relationship between loneliness, psychiatric disorders and physical health ? A review on the psychological aspects of loneliness. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR, 8(9), WE01–WE4.
  36. Nakagawa, A., Mitsuda, D., Sado, M., Abe, T., Fujisawa, D., Kikuchi, T., Iwashita, S., … Ono, Y. (2017). Effectiveness of supplementary cognitive-behavioral therapy for pharmacotherapy-resistant depression: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 78(8):1126-1135.
  37. O’Hara, M.W., Pearlstein, T., Stuart, S., Long, J.D., Mills, J.A. & Zlotnick, C. (2019). A placebo controlled treatment trial of sertraline and interpersonal psychotherapy for postpartum depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 245:524-532.
  38. Öst, L.G., Havnen, A., Hansen, B., & Kvale, G. (2015). Cognitive behavioral treatments of obsessive-compulsive disorder. A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published 1993-2014. Clinical Psychology Review, 40:156-69.
  39. Parcesepe, A.M. & Cabassa, L.J. (2013). Public stigma of mental illness in the United States: a systematic literature review. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 40(5), 384–399.
  40. Pompoli, A., Furukawa, T.A., Efthimiou, O., Imai, H., Tajika, A., & Salanti, G. (2018). Dismantling cognitive-behaviour therapy for panic disorder: a systematic review and component network meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 48(12), 1945–1953.
  41. Psychotherapy. (2021). National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Psychotherapy
  42. Rajabi Majd, N., Broström, A., Ulander, M., Lin, C.Y., Griffiths, M.D., Imani, V., Ahorsu, D.K., … Pakpour, A.H. (2020). Efficacy of a theory-based cognitive behavioral technique app-based intervention for patients with insomnia: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(4), e15841.
  43. Ray, L.A., Meredith, L.R., Kiluk, B.D., Walthers, J., Carroll, K.M. & Magill, M. (2020). Combined pharmacotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy for adults with Alcohol or substance use disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Network Open, 3(6), e208279.
  44. Rodin, G., Lo, C., Rydall, A., Shnall, J., Malfitano, C., Chiu, A., Panday, T., … Hales, S. (2018). Managing Cancer and Living Meaningfully (CALM): A randomized controlled trial of a psychological intervention for patients with advanced cancer. Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, 36(23), 2422–2432.
  45. Smith, L.S. (2016). Family-based therapy for parent-child reunification. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 72(5):498-512.
  46. Stead, L.F., Carroll, A.J. & Lancaster, T. (2017). Group behaviour therapy programmes for smoking cessation. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 3(3), CD001007.
  47. Stech, E.P., Lim, J., Upton, E.L., & Newby, J.M. (2020). Internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy for panic disorder with or without agoraphobia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, 49(4):270-293.
  48. Tan SY & Takeyesu A. (2011). Sigmund Freud (1856-1939): father of psychoanalysis. Singapore Medical Journal. 52(5):322-3.
  49. Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/understanding
  50. van Dis, E., van Veen, S.C., Hagenaars, M.A., Batelaan, N.M., Bockting, C., van den Heuvel, R.M., Cuijpers, P., & Engelhard, I M. (2020). Long-term outcomes of cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety-related disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA psychiatry, 77(3), 265–273.
  51. Wenzel A. (2017). Basic strategies of cognitive behavioral therapy. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 40(4):597-609.
  52. What is group psychotherapy. American Group Therapy Association. https://www.agpa.org/home/practice-resources/what-is-group-psychotherapy-
  53. What is Psychotherapy? American Psychiatric Association. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/psychotherapy
  54. Yohannes, A.M., Junkes-Cunha, M., Smith, J., & Vestbo, J. (2017) Management of dyspnea and anxiety in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A critical review. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. 18(12):1096.e1-1096.e17.
  55. You Are Not Alone. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/NAMI-You-Are-Not-Alone-FINAL.pdf