Benefits and Risks of Therapy

Psychotherapy is a process in which the therapist and client, and sometimes other family members, discuss a myriad of issues, events, symptoms, experiences and memories for the purpose of creating positive change so that the client can experience his or her life more fully.

Therapy provides an opportunity to better and more deeply understand oneself as well as any problems or difficulties the client may be experiencing. Psychotherapy is a joint effort between the client and therapist. Progress and success may vary depending on the particular problems or issues being addressed, as well as many other factors.

Specifically addressing symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may temporarily increase anxiety; however, many clinicians report that 80 to 90 percent of their clients benefit from treatment using this approach.

Participating in therapy may result in a number of benefits to the client, including reduced stress and anxiety, a decrease in negative thoughts and self-sabotaging behaviors, improved interpersonal relationships, increased comfort in social, school, and family settings, and increased self-confidence.

Such benefits may also require substantial effort on the part of the client, including an active participation in the therapeutic process, honesty, and a willingness to change feelings, thoughts and behaviors. There is no guarantee that therapy will yield any or all of the benefits listed above.

Participating in therapy may also involve some discomfort, including remembering and discussing unpleasant events, feelings and experiences. This discomfort may also extend to other family members, as they may be asked to address difficult issues and family dynamics. The process may evoke strong feelings of sadness, anger, fear, etc.

There may be times in which the therapist will challenge the perceptions and assumptions of the client or other family members, and offer different perspectives. The issues presented by the client may result in unintended outcomes, including changes in personal relationships. The client should be aware that any decision on the status of his or her personal relationships is the responsibility of the client.

During the therapeutic process, many clients find that they feel worse before they feel better. This is generally a normal course of events. Personal growth and change may be easy and swift at times, but may also be slow and frustrating. A client should address with the therapist any concerns he or she has regarding progress in therapy.