How to tell if therapy is going well

You can feel pretty vulnerable when you talk to a therapist. Think about it – you are telling them your deepest thoughts and you are not sure what they are thinking!  You might not know what a therapist is supposed to do or act like if you’ve never seen one before. So how do you know if things are going well in therapy?

Photo Credit: fraser wilson via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: fraser wilson via Compfight cc

Here are some suggestions we have!

Ask yourself:

  • Do I think therapy will help me?
  • What do I expect out of my therapist?

Ask your parent:

  • Are you willing to participate in therapy together or alone for you if needed?
  • What do you expect out of me for therapy?
  • What do you expect out of my therapist?


Discuss your answers to the above questions with your therapist and your parent so you can have a clear idea if what you think will happen is what will happen.

As you get to know your therapist, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I feel accepted?
  • Is my therapist caring?
  • Does my therapist explain things clearly?
  • If my therapist and I disagree, can we have a productive conversation about it?
  • Does my therapist recognize if there is a problem and addresses it instead of avoiding it?

After you’ve gotten to know your therapist, ask yourself:

  • Does my therapist have a good relationship with me?
  • Do we get along?
  • Do we agree on the goals of what I am going to get from my treatment?
  • Does my therapist get along with my parent?
  • Does my therapist agree with my parent on the goals of my treatment?

These questions have been shown in research to influence how well therapy can work for kids and adolescents which is why we think it is important to think about them.

If the answers are no to any of these questions, talk to your therapist on how you might address them. If it doesn’t feel comfortable to talk to your therapist, then talk to whoever referred you to them – like your primary care provider about whether they can help talk to your therapist and investigate whether they are a good fit for you.

Did you try out using any of these questions? Is there something new you learned? Are there other questions you suggest for talking to your therapist?

Moderator ★

Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: We look forward to talking to you!

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